Forsyth County Schools is an international leader in the effective practice of BYOT, which encourages students to bring their personal technology tools to school for learning. The acronym "BYOT" stands for Bring Your Own Technology, a practice also sometimes often referred to as BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. It is an initiative that is having an impact in the business world as well as in education. From a user’s point of view, there is a certain comfort with using a technology tool that has been customized and personalized to one’s needs and interests. As students utilize their personal technology devices in school, they can learn new ways to use them for collaborating and interacting with their teachers and each other to research information, solve complex problems, create original products, and publish their work.
The district began its BYOT initiative several years ago by expanding the wireless infrastructure so that every school now has a guest "BYOT" wireless access point that provides filtered Internet access. The initial pilot phase for BYOT involved 40 teachers in seven schools who explored innovative uses for students' technology tools through the 4 C's of Digital Age Learning - Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking. These skills are essential for successful careers in today's colleges and businesses. Over time, teachers have also developed strategies to address the following issues: equity of devices, responsible use, and classroom management. Now, BYOT is supported in every school within the district, and as devices and tools continue to change, new instructional skills and strategies are evolving to promote their use.
Some of the technology tools that students bring to school include the following: laptop computers, tablet computers, e-readers, netbook computers, Internet-capable gaming devices, and cell phones. The response has been very positive, and teachers participate in multiple professional learning opportunities to improve their understanding for this new way of learning. The district also provides additional support and guidance to our schools, as requested, to facilitate the implementation of BYOT.