Opportunity Awaits

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For the upcoming school year, the Technology Committee proposed a change to our current Acceptable Use Policy/ Mobile Device Policy to reflect the fact that cell phones aren’t just cell phones any longer. We agreed to keep the Middle School policy in tact but changed our Upper School policy to:

The use of cell phones/ mobile devices (mobile tablets, e-readers, multimedia players, etc.) is permitted during class and study hall with the explicit permission of a faculty member or study hall proctor. Adherence to the Honor Code is expected at all times. Cell phones/ mobile devices must be off or in silent mode at all times during the school day on the main campus. Talking on cell phones is prohibited at all times while in classroom buildings. Students may not wear headphones while traveling between buildings, however a student may wear them while in designated common student spaces (e. g. courtyard, library, student lounge areas).
This policy change has been met with mixed emotions. In my opinion, it is fair, allowing those teachers who see mobile devices as an important tool in the classroom to use them. It still preserves the right for the less comfortable to not “allow them in”.
So- what’s the problem?…
the problem is that some people feel:
1) mobile devices shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom because it will promote cheating.
2) mobile devices will be a distraction to students in class
3) mobile devices have no use in class, and take away from the “real learning”
Here’s what I say to that:
1) Cheating has been happening long before technology came along. Do we ban books when students used them to cheat?
2) Maybe teachers need to re-examine their assessments. If it’s that easy to cheat, then it’s probably not a good assessment.
3) If you have clear expectations about the honor code, and hold students accountable to it, cheating is less likely to happen (with any tool)
4) Mobile devices can actually be more REAL learning than anything a student has experienced before (in class).
I also say.. OPPORTUNITY AWAITS!!
1) students can now use the powerful technology that is in their pockets. It is more powerful than the computers of a few short years ago.
2) students can also learn appropriate (and inappropriate) uses of mobile devices in school. Lessons we all should be reinforcing.
3) students can connect and collaborate easier than ever before.
4) students might even be more motivated in class!

I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. I am sure this new policy won’t be met without its challenges. I hope that we can continue to remind ourselves of the many benefits of using mobile devices and not get bogged down in the bumps we will surely face along the way.

Recommended book: Mobile Learning Devices by: Kipp D. Rodgers
(There is a lot of great advice, practical examples and policy drafts in this book)
http://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Learning-Devices-Essentials-Principals/dp/1935542699

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