Schools Let Kids Bring Mobile Technology To Class


Updating the policy helped because students knew what was expected of them, and it allowed for uniform enforcement.

While students at Lower Dauphin said they’re encouraged by the district’s stance, some are more likely to rely on their smartphones’ data stream and circumvent the district’s network.

But they’re not really allowed to do so, which puts teachers in a Catch-22 situation: They can take time out of their instruction periods to police smartphone use, turn a blind eye to the practice or just tell students not to use them.

Along with teaching students how to use the devices to quickly find and process information, educators are trying to develop policies to teach students technology etiquette.

Administrators at Derry Township are hoping that as younger students move into the program, using the school’s system and rules will become the social norm.

“That’s the expectation we’re setting,” McFarland said. “Any time you begin something new you get a lot of concerns, a lot of what-ifs.”

Educators also have to figure out how to use them in classes.

While a smartphone might not be the ideal for reading an online textbook or typing a paper, students have already found uses for them in school, often before the schools gave their blessing.

At Lower Dauphin, senior Ashlee Krulock said having her smartphone is handy for study halls, when she can check her test scores online or use the device’s Internet access to help her with homework.

“It makes things easier,” she said. When studying anatomy, instead of needing to flip through her textbook to look up the definition of a word or an organ’s function, she can quickly find it online.

It doesn’t help her when she has to take a test – she still has to know how the body works and systems interact – but it helps her find basic knowledge quickly when she’s studying.

By doing so, she’s engaging in what educators term “21st Century Learning,” which focuses more on critical thinking than note memorization.

The idea is a core principal behind the pilot program at Derry Township, McFarland said.

“When we were in school, there was more of a need for memorization, because that knowledge wasn’t at your fingertips,” he said. “There are bigger concepts that are more important. … We want to create adults who think critically and solve problems.”

It’s also more reflective of the environment outside the schools, where students eventually will be working.

“Googling” has become a verb in the modern lexicon, and the schools are moving to reflect that.

“So it’s more real-world learning, more engaged learning,” he said. “It’s been a real paradigm shift for education.”

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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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