Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why hide technology in the Locker??

I wrote this blog for my personal education blog but thought I would share it with you even though it’s not related with art education. Any one have any thoughts about cell phone, ipad, or home lap top/netbook use in the classroom. I am a strong advocate for bringing in smart  phones/ipads into the school. Schools don’t have the budget for this type of technology, specially private schools. I wish we could give and ipod or ipad to every student. However, students need to learn how to use these devices responsibly and stop sneak using them. If you have any thoughts let me know pros/cons or any good articles or local schools. I know from professional discussions with teachers from around the country that use technology from the home ipads/smartphones. That it has increased the technology by 50% and enhanced learning. The one thing I heard over and over was it’s easy to just have them remove the sim card and have them use WIFI on the school network as the biggest safety net. 
I have been following the trend of schools allowing and actually encouraging students to bring and use smart phones in school.  It is becoming common in the work field as a tool so why not allow middle school and high school students use this technology in the classroom. Heck, with education budget cuts this could actually become a free resource.  How many free or low cost educational apps are available on the iphone.  How many students have these devices in lockers, book bags or maybe at home. Why not instead of telling students to leave them at home, take them away when they have them out we as teachers teach them how to responsibly use them. They are not going away. 
I went two years ago to a workshop that  one teacher discussed was how the  inner city school teacher who “gasp” allowed students to use their smart phones. She set up rules:
1.  place them on airplane mode unless an app needs the 3g or wireless.
2. She could answer it if it rang and no texting while in class.
3.  IF Caught misusing the phone they would loose use of the phone in class for the week . No using it for research, games or  projects, like a normal classroom. They got the textbook, pencil and notebook. She had the students write on a large paper what misuse would be. (Oh an internet safety lesson)    Examples: no camera use unless for project.  She taught about professional uses of facebook and twitter.  A computer ethics course.
She also allowed students to text or e-mail home work.  During the year she documented an increase in test score and turned in homework.  As for misuse she had non students did not want to loss the privilege and respected the rules they created.
I researched a few article and successful schools that are allowing smart phone use 

Schools starting to allow use of digital devices

Some schools rethink ban of cell phones Best advice I have read
But the American Association of School Administrators itself argues the other side, promoting the use of cell phones in class as “genuine educational tools.”
“Handheld devices like cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerrys and iTouch are beginning to offer applications that enhance classroom learning by engaging kids to use tools they are constantly using anyway,” Daniel A. Domenech, the association’s executive director, wrote in an essay last fall.
Cell phones head to classThe students are expecting immediate answers and, if we don't always have a room full of computers and they do have answers right there in their pockets, it's sad for us to say, ‘I know it's there and you can't (use it),'” Faulkner said. “Some teachers were saying, ‘OK, you can look that up on your phone and I'll stand right here and watch you.'”

School Districts Lay Foundation for Mobile Devices over the past two years, Forsyth County Schools in Cumming, Ga., has slowly allowed some of its 34,000 students to bring their own notebooks, iPhones or other computing tools to school and connect them to the district network.

This school Farsyth County School after reading numerous articles has to be the best use of available technology I have read about. If you allow students to link with WIFI not the cellular network you can monitor what they can and cannot use. That is what I use in my classroom. I have iphones and ipods using WIFI only and I know the students are only able to get to appropriate sites. Have the student remove the sim card and place it a container labeled with their name if your worried about them using the cellular network at the end of the day they can put the sim card back in. In my classroom they are old phones that does not have a sim card.

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