Saturday, August 25, 2007

Schools adapt to digital age

There was a time when students showed up on the first day of school with backpacks stuffed with nothing more sophisticated than solar calculators.

Those days are long past, and administrators and teachers are finding themselves having to adapt their rules and teaching techniques to a new generation of students - the kind who are likely to be more at home with a cell phone than a pen and paper.

Gary Bernardini, store manager of Radio Shack in the Florence Mall, said the main item high school students are buying this season is the cell phone with Internet and music capabilities.

The phones are really becoming more music-centric," Bernardini said. "The keypad doesn't just have numbers any more, but controls for music right on the front of the phone. Kids expect their cell phones to do a lot more than they used to."

Dixie Heights High School senior Lauren Eldridge said her cell phone allows her to keep in touch with her parents and take photos and get on the Internet. She loves her iPod as well, but she said she's careful not to use these gadgets when she's in class. Not everyone is as conscientious, however.

"I do find it annoys me when students are blatantly using cell phones in class," Eldridge said. "It's against school policy to do that. Technically, they're supposed to be in our lockers when they're not in use, but kids do sometimes get away with snapping pictures in class or texting."
To help them deal with the ever-changing technology that students bring to class, the three largest Northern Kentucky School Districts - Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties - all have acceptable-use policies that students must sign at the start of the year. The policies vary slightly but are consistent in requiring that cell phones be turned off during the school day and the Internet be used for educational purposes only.

Such policies, according to Campbell County Schools Technology Director Linda Smith, are all about protecting students from themselves.

"We want students to be safe. We try to protect them as much as we can, but with technology, that's hard to do. Just when we think we've found a way to safeguard students, they find a way around it," Smith said.

That is particularly true of sites such as Facebook and MySpace, Campbell County High School Associate Principal John Hardy said...

This from the Cincinnati Post.

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