VT School May Encourage Use of Cell Phones in Class

May 21, 2012

Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington is looking for ways to save money but provide the same access to information that their Middle School enjoys, access to laptop computer for every student.

Frank Barnes is the Director of Technology for the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. He’s helping develop an experiment to determine which technologies fit different styles of classroom learning.

The solution might just be to let students use a tool that many schools forbid in the classroom, their smartphone.

The pilot program that is being developed by Barnes and Sue Maguire, Principal of Mount Anthony Union, would put different devices in different classrooms. By working with the school’s teachers, a tablet like an iPad might work best in math classes, Google Chromebooks for English, laptops for science, and one social studies teacher could have students use their own iphones and android smartphones.

Principal Sue Maguire said that by using students’ smartphones in the classroom, the school can teach teens good online habits and show students their phones can be valuable for learning,not just texting or playing games.

Maguire said that the pilot program is necessary for the school to keep up with the students, even though more monitoring would be needed…

Mount Anthony Union hopes to save money on teaching materials as well. Frank Barnes suggested that textbooks can be downloaded for a fraction of the price of ordering new books, and homework and testing can be handled without paper.

Barnes also suggested that including personal devices in classroom activities could increase awareness of cyber-bullying and safe internet practices. He likened the program to a kind of Driver’s Ed but with cell phones…

If the plan is approved by the school board in June, the school would begin experimenting with new technology integration next Fall.