Technology goes to school

November 4, 2012 

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ’EM, join them. That’s the attitude in public schools about smart phones and other technology. School officials have decided that trying to keep the devices out of school was a losing battle. So now, instead of leaving your phones at home, it’s BYOD — bring your own device to school.

But as Granite City recently found out, the battles aren’t over. There’s a whole new set of disciplinary issues to confront when students use Twitter and other social media irresponsibly. As one educator put it, tweeting can be like firing a gun in the air. Give school administrators credit for suspending the students who sent or retweeted sexually inappropriate messages.

Learning doesn’t mean just knowing how to search. And there’s a broader problem with embracing technology: not every student has a smart phone or an iPad — or at least we hope not. The most recent Illinois school report card shows that 49 percent of students in Illinois are from families considered low income. Presumably those parents have more important priorities than buying their kids a data plan.

Educators say they’re sensitive to that point. However, as lessons increasingly depend on technology, the gap between the haves and have-nots will become more pronounced. What are schools going to do then, have taxpayers supply students with iPhones and two-year service contracts?

Hope we’re not giving the politicians any ideas.

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