The Robertson County School Board is considering a policy change that would allow students to bring their own Internet accessible devices like laptops, tablets and smart phones into the classroom, according to Mike Davis the Director of Schools for Robertson County. “It’s new territory for some but right now no one is teaching our students how to use technology, the’re learning it themselves with trial and error. The hardest thing is to make change, and that’s what we’re trying to do here” Davis said.
The intent is to allow students to bring their own devices to school and use them in the curriculum. “Restrictions on how devices can be used will be applied,” Davis said. “Social networks like Facebook and Twitter will not be allowed, students will have to use our access port to the Net which has strong filtration”
Some wonder how the faculty can monitor all the students all the time. The iPhone alone is a device with unparalleled access to information and technology. It’s probably the most powerful tool to come down the pike in history, next to the car I guess. The car too gave us all access to the world, and it still does, but we still have to behave ourselves when we use it. No one would say, get rid of the car because you can use it to drive to inappropriate places our use it in inappropriate ways. We all know, you control yourself or bad things can happen.
I asked Davis if the school system’s network is ready to handle a multitude of devices. “The school system is currently doubling their internet bandwidth” Davis said. Davis feels they are ready to handle an influx of new devices should the school actually open up its policy to allow students to use their own devices at school. Davis said their motive is to “give the students better access to global digital curriculum.” Davis said that in the next ten years text books will fade and curriculum will be delivered via technology. He says text book companies are already issuing CD’s along with their text books.
One big advantage to going digital Davis says is, “Text book curriculum can be updated instantaneously, instead of waiting 6 years for it to be updated.” Another advantage to embracing technology is it offers access to subject matter not readily available to students through standard curriculum.
I asked Davis if students are currently allowed to carry smart phones to school. “Whether it is the rule or not it’s been the practice.” Davis said. You just can’t search every student every day” Davis said. What the school system is really talking about is more than just allowing devices. A better way to say it would be that they are looking to embrace technology and use it to help educate our children. “There’s a world of education out there and we’d like to make it more accessible for students” Davis said.
“Embracing technology will present some challenges but I think it’s a progressive thing to do” Davis said. The just of it is; that we’re sending our kids into a future filled with technology, we should teach them how to use it properly instead of improperly.
I point blanked Davis on the issue of technology providing students easier access to porn and other inappropriate material while at school. “If we observe that kind of behavior, or find it to be a problem we will address it, just like we would address any type of acting out in class” Davis said.
“If a child was caught looking at inappropriate material it would be handled like any other medium such as books or magazines, parents would be notified and the student would be disciplined accordingly. We can’t be afraid of trying to do futuristic types of things; if we do, we’ll stagnate and the rest of the world will pass us by” Davis said.
Davis said that “Technology is advancing so rapidly that we need to make sure our students know how to appropriately use it and use it in a meaningful way to benefit them. I know they’ll be challenges, there is with everything.”
I asked Davis about students that can’t afford to buy technology. “If we move forward it won’t be a requirement, it’s called B.Y.O.T., Bring Your Own Technology” Davis said. Davis likens computer, smart phone and tablet technology to the first days of pocket calculators that first started appearing in schools back in the 70’s, some students had access to them and some didn’t. At first students started bringing them to school, we finally got to a point where we started supplying calculators to the students. “We already have some devices which we can supplement for those students that don’t have access to technology. It’s important to embrace technology rather than trying to prevent it from happening” Davis said.
Davis said he attended a conference at Apple a couple of years ago at their corporate headquarters. He said they gave him a glimpse into the future as it relates to technology in the classroom. He said one of the things Apple expressed was that if you go out and try to find a music store they’re hard to find, they almost don’t exist anymore. He said that Apple believes that they’re going to do to textbooks what they did to the music industry.
“I think this is going to be a positive step for Robertson County schools.” Davis said
Jim Ball reporting
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