Kingsland is leaving its students — at least juniors and seniors for now — to their own devices.

“The Best Buy Program is something the Edina school district started a year or two ago, a very successful venture in which its students can purchase a computer or other device from Best Buy, reduced in price, and something they can utilize for school, then take with them.  It’s a partnership between school districts and Best Buy,” said Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald.

The Best Buy Program and related Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program have been chosen by the school to try for this coming school year as a means of students gaining access to technology for educational purposes. The BYOD program is a somewhat separate program from the Best Buy Program in that students may choose to bring to school an approved laptop or netbook purchased at any store, not just Best Buy, to use in class. 

“We like the idea of the way it promotes technology and moves toward our one-to-one program for kindergarten through 12th.  We’re starting with juniors and seniors participating in the program,” said McDonald.

“For the last few years, students in seventh through 12th grade have had laptops or netbooks — they’ve been reissued at the beginning of the new school year, but they have a life expectancy of three to four years of good service,” he explained.  “In seventh through 10th, they’ll still have netbooks, and in kindergarten through sixth, they’ll still have iPads, but in moving forward, we’ll find out how beneficial this is to students, and maybe we’ll be able to expand the program. If students choose not to participate in the program, we’ll still give them a school-issued device to use. They’ll still have technology available to them…this levels the playing field for the students.”   

Kingsland’s tech coordinator, Bob Tieffenbacher, explained the tenets of the Best Buy Program further. The school can choose how many devices it wants to offer, and there will be a link to the Best Buy store online. Parents will receive an e-mail with that link and a code sometime this week, and there will be three devices they can choose from — two different laptops and one netbook — and they can decide which one they want to purchase at a reduced rate. 

The school is working with families, said Tieffenbacher, but they can purchase only one device for juniors and seniors for the Bring Your Own Device program. It’s not required. It’s just available to families who would like a device for their student to use, not only at Kingsland, but to have a device to take to college.

He and McDonald noted that though students might wish to buy or already possess a Kindle or an iPad, those items will not work for the intended purposes at school. However, they reiterated that participation in the Best Buy Program is optional and that students who choose not to will still have access to school-issued tech devices for educational purposes. 

Tieffenbacher related that for those who do choose to participate, “it’s good for only one device per junior or senior student,” and parents of Kingsland students who do not have Internet access may stop in at the high school to obtain a code or to discuss participation in the Best Buy Program as part of BYOD.

For more information, call (507) 346-7276 or stop in at 705 N. Section Ave., Spring Valley.