Contrary to conventional wisdom teachers are finding that making technology accessible with student owned devices such as smartphones and tablets is a great way to utilize the internet and keep students engaged in the lesson.
Almost mocking the sign that reads “Turn It Off” with a red slash through a phone on the wall of the classrooom, Larson’s students tapped away, doing research for an upcoming mock trial.
With wireless Internet becoming increasingly common in classrooms, school districts across the country are tapping into youngsters’ smart devices to make technology more accessible in the classroom.
The idea, known as “bring your own device,” allows teachers to use the smart devices students already were bringing to school. So instead of hiding cellphones in their backpacks or turning them in at the door, some teachers encourage students to have their phones out in the classroom.
“It’s a good way to leverage personal devices for educational needs,” said Gary Ganje, the St. Cloud school district’s director of technology and media.
“It’s really been grassroots from staff like Justin,” Ganje said.
Larson frequently integrates personal devices into his lesson plans. He can quickly poll students, asking them for a one-word answer to a lesson-based question. Then on his tablet, he can see how many correct answers are returned and knows whether he needs to re-emphasize that point or can move on in the lesson.
“What are fossil fuels?” one student called out Friday.
“Text it in!” Larson said.
On Monday, he will review difficult vocabulary words and other questions students texted or tweeted during research with the whole class.
He says a majority of students already bring smart devices to school. He doesn’t integrate the devices into a lesson unless he has a backup cart of iPads for students who don’t have devices to bring to school.
The district’s role, Ganje said, is to ensure the policy and procedures are in place to provide a safeguard for students. Each school and classroom handle the policy differently, he said.