The Harrison County School District will vote Oct. 23, on the second reading of a policy that will allow cell phones to be used for educational purposes in classrooms.
For several years, schools across the nation have seen cell phones as nothing more than a distraction for students during school hours.
However, cell phones are a mere vote away from being allowed back into schools, not as a communication device but for learning.
“Technology has truly changed over the past few years,” explained technology coordinator Melissa Shepard. “Cell phones are more like a tiny computer in our pockets.”
Shepard said Harrison County Schools will hopefully have the ability to allow students to use cell phones during class for a variety of educational purposes in the near future.
“In the past teachers have allowed students to leave class in order to do research on topics covered in class,” explained Shepard. “What if a teacher could simply allow a student to pull out a smart phone and do the research right from the classroom.”
Shepard said a survey was conducted last year and showed that 561 students had in their possession a smart phone.
“I think it would be great if we could teach our students that these devices can be used for more than just texting and social media,” said Shepard. “The benefits of knowing how to properly use smart devices could go on to benefit our students even after their college careers.”
According to Shepard, should the second reading of the new cellphone policy pass, it will still be up to each school to devise a new cell phone policy for each school.
Policies will be different between each school,” said Shepard. “Of course teachers and faculty will be more apt to allow students to use phones in the high school than in elementary schools.’
Shepard agreed that students are using technology more now than ever and rely on mobile devices more than on computers.
“It is more of us embracing new times,” said Shepard. “I am sure we will still have some students who abuse cellphone and mobile device privileges. However, we hope most will learn what a valuable educational tool they can be.”
Shepard said due to the cost of such devices, the administrators are aware that not all students will have the means to afford mobile devices of their own.
“We are prepared to provide iPads and other tools to those who don’t have smart phones so no one feels left out,” said Shepard. “We want all of our students to have the same opportunity if teachers are willing to allow them in their classrooms.”
Shepard said monitoring of cell phones will still be a major priority for all school staff to ensure that academic integrity is not threatened.
“In no way will we allow any device to take away from education,” said Shepard. “This is a privilege and not a right. Those who do not follow the rules, lose that privilege.”