Schools Let Kids Bring Mobile Technology To Class


It’s an area where educators can’t ignore a fact of life: Not only is the technology here and in the hands of their students, but in many cases what a student carries in a pocket might be more powerful than what the school can provide.

“The kids all have these devices and are doing it already,” said Joe McFarland, director of curriculum at the Derry Township district.

Derry is also using technology in other areas, such as having some special-needs students use tablet computers. Pilot programs use online textbooks, and teachers are integrating Web-based resources, such as instructional videos, into their lesson plans.

Luke Fenstermacher, a 17-year-old senior at Lower Dauphin High School, said he was happy the school was trying to work with the students regarding smartphones.

“I think they have to find a way for it to work. … It’s happening anyway,” he said. “(The school is) really making a big effort. … They’re really trying.”

Before the change, the high school had an “off and away” policy for phones in classes. Now, if they register them with the school, students can use them for educational purposes.

Hershey High School’s program allowing students to use smartphones, laptops or tablet computers is in its infancy. The school’s staff is collecting feedback from students and teachers, which it will review over the summer.

As with any new program, there are growing pains.

At Lower Dauphin High School, some students, especially seniors who are close to graduation, expressed wariness of the program.

Students mostly cite privacy concerns: To use smartphones or other devices in class, they are required to register them with the school and use the school’s network.

Using the school’s network automatically filters out some Internet content that might be unsuitable for students, but students are afraid that using the district’s network also might allow educators to track their Web browsing.

Derry Township district officials said they are monitoring traffic to see if students are attempting to access blocked content. Administrators said they’ll deal with issues as they pop up. The same goes for violations of rules concerning cellphones.

At Cumberland Valley, Panzer said problems with phones decreased after the district enacted its new policy.

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Posted by on Jun 1st, 2012 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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