As mentioned, we are looking to revamp the policy completely in order to encourage the use of the technology as we are embracing the notion of teaching 21st century skills. I am in the process of looking at different policies as we work as a technology committee to shape ours.
My initial thoughts focus on the idea that technology should be used to enhance the educational process without becoming an unwelcomed distraction. Many students have a powerful technological device in their pocket. They are connected to the internet and have a variety of applications that can facilitate learning. Furthermore, we can help students maximize the potential of these devices by teaching and reinforcing proper use. Don't get me wrong. I'm not ignorant and recognize that there are valid concerns. It is easy to hide behind the small screen and use the technology in a disruptive or inappropriate manner. Any policy created must acknowledge and address this reality.
Following are some resources / readings on the topic:
- Pros of Cell Phones in Schools - Benefits of Phones for Students by Rebekah Richards from http://www.suite101.com/
- Cons of Cell Phones in Schools - Disadvantages of Student Phone Use in the Classroom by Rebekah Richards from http://www.suite101.com/
School Policies on Cell Phone Use:
- Bernards Township Board of Education (Current) Policy
- Arps Schools Electronic Device Policy
Interesting point in Arps policy: "These devices must be kept out of sight and turned off during the instructional program and in the classroom except when otherwise directed by the instructor. " The policy otherwise seems to expect students to not have devices, but high school students are permitted to use them during lunch.
- From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning by Liz Kolb
Liz's article includes a modification to an Acceptable Use Policy that addresses the use of Mobile Phones.
- Sample Classroom Cellphone AUP from the Burrell School District
So, as we move toward a policy that embraces cell phone and handheld use to enhance education, I believe a number of questions are worth exploring:
- Should the policy indicate that devices should be turned off and out of sight unless otherwise noted for a specific educational activity or should students be encouraged to use devices as a regular academic tool?
- Should devices be permitted during non-academic times (i.e. lunch, study hall)?
- Should certain applications be generally banned (YouTube)?
- What should the AUP include?
- What consequences should be given for inappropriate use?
Any feedback is certainly welcome.