District 11 now allows personal electronic use in the classroom

Some teachers in District 11 now allow secondary students to whip out their personal electronic devices during class – but only for educational purposes.

Put into practice last school year, the “Bring Your Own Device” program allows middle and high school students to use their smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. to connect to the district’s wireless Internet service with teacher permission.

The program’s primary purpose is to promote digital citizenship, according to Kay Villella, assistant director of communication and public relations for the district. Internet etiquette and safety practices can be folded into other lessons when students use their devices during class.

An additional goal of the program is to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce, where they will undoubtedly use technology in their daily tasks, Villella said.

Megan Lee, a social studies teacher at STEP, Anoka-Hennepin’s Secondary Technical Education Program, started allowing students to use personal electronics in her classes this year.

At first, Lee was hesitant about the program, worrying that students without devices would feel alienated and that students would fall off task, she said.

Neither of Lee’s concerns turned out to be problems.

School computers and iPads are available for student use when Lee plans a digital activity, and many students take advantage of the school’s resources, she said.

The program teaches students that they can use their own devices as learning tools, not just as a way to access entertaining YouTube videos, Lee said.

Typically, Lee takes advantage of the “Bring Your Own Device” program about four times each week across her various classes.

She often has students take quizzes online. They receive instant feedback, which draws their attention to concepts they have not yet grasped, Lee said. “It helps individualize learning,” she said.

Going forward, Lee hopes to have even more curriculum online, developing an integrated website, like she’s seen other teachers do, with digital worksheets, quizzes, tests and more.

Olivia Koester is at
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