Students Now Allowed Mobile Devices
By AMIE WEINBERG, PhD
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — As you scan your child’s class room you will find paper, pencils, and backpacks. In addition, you are likely to notice an increase in digital age technologies.
This year, Prince William County Public Schools is allowing students and staff to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Of course, participants must agree to abide by the county’s Acceptable Use and Internet Safety Policy, and will be supervised by school personnel. As a result of this new policy, there is likely to be a sharp increase in the number of smart phones, iPads, and notebook computers in Northern Virginia classrooms.
Most teenage smart phone users know how to use their device to find the closest Target or Chipotle. But Smartphones can do much more than help teens fill their stomachs and empty their wallets. Technologies have various affordances, or uses, depending on the user and the reason for which the technology is used. It seems logical, then, to teach students to access their own technology to enhance learning.
Imagine a history teacher facilitating a student debate about the causes and consequences of the Civil War. Participants can simultaneously access appropriate sources and images to secure their debate position.
Some may wonder whether younger students can benefit from the same technologies as older students. Once again, educators must consider the technology and how it can best be used for their student population. For example, there exist an almost unlimited number of apps, most of which are fun, some of which are educationally beneficial. Educators can guide young students toward apps that reinforce spelling skills or Math facts, depending on the child’s needs.
This year, rather than hearing teachers scold students for taking their cell phones to class, you are likely to hear “turn on your cell phones” as the learning continues.