Regardless of whether you went to school when cell phones first started to come out (Nokia (News - Alert)) to when they became a miniature computer (iPhone), one rule resounded in students’ heads in school – “No cell phones allowed.”
This isn’t the case anymore. Schools are looking to prepare their students for the real world, which means getting them accustomed to always having technology by their side.
Sayreville War Memorial High School is joining a number of schools throughout the state of New Jersey in its second year of a new technology pilot program, “Bring Your Own Device.” The program incorporates a student’s Internet-compatible device into the classroom as an additional research and student-collaboration aid.
“I bring my technology to work with me — all the kids have technology — so I thought it would be a good idea if they could bring their own technology in,” said Helen Bruno-Raccuia, a Sayreville Board of Education member who serves on the Technology Committee. “With their own technology, they can take notes, do research, and participate in class.”
Pam Gunter, president-elect of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, explained that the program will help answer in-classroom questions more quickly and easily. It will also give a teacher the opportunity to teach students how to identify and incorporate scholarly research from the Internet into their papers.
Bruno-Raccuia said that the program is looking to extend into other classrooms for the 2012-13 school year.
“Last year, just two teachers were using it, and this year, we are talking to other teachers to use it as well,” Bruno-Racciua said.
“I know that everywhere I go, I bring my technology,” Bruno-Raccuia said. “They will be using theirs in college and at their jobs, and we are required to prep our kids for college and for the workplace. We should be making its use second nature to them.”
Last year’s trial period allowed the program organizers to ensure that certain abuses, such as personal surfing or social networking, would not occur during class time.
“If they’re on school wireless, they can’t get on Facebook or Twitter (News - Alert), and a lot of websites are blocked,” Bruno-Raccuia said. “We’re teaching them when it’s appropriate to use these devices and for what. They won’t be reprimanded on the job. It’s our responsibility to teach them technology.”
Although programs like the one at Sayreville War Memorial High School is proving to become a start-up success, many teachers and public education advocates are left wondering where BYOD will lead. Budget cuts in educational institutes have already suffered a lot in the past few years. BYOD enables students and families to provide their own device, but what about the students that cannot afford one? The emergence of technology in education certainly has a lot of challenges to overcome, and BYOD is one of them.
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Edited by Rich Steeves