New York City is finally ending its long ban on cellphones in schools.
At Brien McMahon High School, a student said recently, anyone who brings a laptop to class is considered weird.
Westport, meanwhile, plows ahead with its “Bring Your Own Device” initiative. Beginning next year, students will be required to provide their own technology during the school day.
According to Inklings, the Staples newspaper — accessible online, of course — the Board of Education heard a BYOD progress report last month.
A PowerPoint presentation (natch) noted that this month, parents will be advised of specifications for “devices that may be purchased.” The months ahead brings parent information sessions, student input and “boot camps” for students and teachers.
Inklings reported that the Westport School District will provide “refurbished devices” for elementary and middle schoolers who are financially unable to purchase their own; Staples students will get new Chromebooks. Funding comes from a $30,000 line item for new technology purchases this year.
According to Inklings, townwide director of technology Natalie Carrignan said that 60% of students already bring their own devices to school.
At Staples, that percentage seems low. Laptops, tablets and cellphones are everywhere. They’re used constantly — often for schoolwork, occasionally not.
Each month, it seems, fewer and fewer students sit at the desktop computers that fill the library and learning centers. And the laptops that teachers can sign out for class use are often slow, unreliable and out of date.
If you think there should still be a debate about using technological devices in school, you might have argued a century ago that cars may not be the best replacement for horses.
Westport students live their lives online. So do most teachers.
Our school district’s job is to prepare young people for life through the end of this century. Administrators and the Board of Ed are figuring out how to harness technology, to best serve education in the sciences, humanities and arts. They recognize reality in many forms (including financial).
But if you’d like to offer your own insights, click “Comments.” On whatever electronic device you’re using right now.