by Jonah Drenning
Ellicott City, MD – How would you like to be allowed to use your smart phone in school? Do you think it could be useful to help you learn? Or just a distraction?
Recently, the Carroll County School System has considered changing its policy on electronics in schools, according to carrollcountytimes.com. The Carroll County Board of Education is reconsidering which phones and other electronics can be used for educational purposes. Smart phones are banned in most school systems, but teachers use increasing amounts of technology in instruction.
Teachers are using technology such as interactive whiteboards to teach their classes. Also, each teacher in the Carroll County School System is assigned a laptop and a projector for use during the year. Teachers at Centennial also have access to a laptop, a project, and document cameras that are becoming commonplace in the classroom.
Many teachers and staff enjoy using the new technology and believe that it helps them teach, grade, and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents quickly and efficiently.
“My favorite part of the technology is that I can do research for projects using the reliable sources and databases from the school website,” said Sophomore Jeffrey Tse.
Teachers in Howard County use a website, Aspen, to inform students and parents of grades as soon as the teacher finishes grading, and students no longer wait until the teacher hands back the work. However, the transition from the old, similar service TeacherEase was difficult, and technology can be difficult to manage.
Issues with the new uses of technology in the school system include the quick replacement cycle for computers, the high cost of maintaining and buying technology, and the potential for misuse that technology comes with. The schools technology does not always work correctly.
“Some of the school’s technology is not up to date, and the website we look at for grades is very buggy,” said Sophomore Ankur Holz.
Keeping in mind the advantages and drawbacks of using technology in the classroom, school systems across the state must make a decision about the amount of technology that students will be able to use. Current Howard County policy requires phones off and out of view during the day. This policy does not account for smart phones having qualities of computers and potential for education.
“You can use your phone as a dictionary or calculator for most classes, and you could even use it as a metronome or tuner for music classes,” said Sophomore Connor Lin.
Smart phones can be used as a substitute for many common classroom tools. They can be dictionaries, planners, calculators, sketchbooks, and search engines. Although phones can be misused in class, allowing students to use phones during class might cut down on “illegal” use. Schools must still be careful if they are to adopt a new technology policy.
Cyber-bullying and theft are issues that would have to be addressed in a new technology policy. Cyber-bullying has been covered in several assemblies throughout the past few years, but it is still an issue.
“As more social networking is established, there are more opportunities for people to take advantage of innocent lives susceptible to attacks,” said Holz.
Theft is a problem that would only grow if students could use their smart phones in class. Currently the Howard County School System is not responsible for stolen electronics during the day, as they are banned in school, but that could change if students could use phones in school.
“Yes, if phones were allowed for use in school the school [should be] partially responsible because they authorized the use,” said Holz.
Another reason to include technology in the curriculum is how it puts all students on an equal playing field. Technology improves disabled or shy students’ learning experience. A study conducted in schools in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota found that increased use in technology enhanced the learning experience of the majority of the students, according to carroltechcouncil.org.
With the increase of use of technology in many people’s daily lives, the Howard County Public School System may have to reaffirm or take a new stance on technology in the near future.