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High School pupils bring their own devices.

Some experts believe the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) format is a successful and cost-effective solution for large districts, since most older students have cell phones. Last year, New Milford High School in the New Milford School District in New Jersey ran a pilot program with seniors, allowing them to use their cell phones for class instruction. The program was so successful, this year the school opened up BYOD to all students.

"They're tools that the students have grown up with," Principal Eric Sheninger says. "The big disconnect is that schools do a very good job of creating an environment that's the exact opposite of what our learners are accustomed to."

Students can bring in any mobile learning device to use in class. Those who do not have one can partner with another student or participate in a group learning session. With access to a secure wireless network from anywhere on campus, students can work on assignments on their devices, although certain Web sites are blocked.

In the classroom, teachers use a program called Poll Everywhere, which turns a cell phone into a student-response system. "In a typical classroom, a teacher will ask a question and maybe a few students will raise their hands to answer, but with Poll Everywhere, every student has to answer the question," Sheninger says.

Since the BYOD program started, Sheninger says he has seen fewer behavioral problems in class and more student involvement. "We have an opportunity here to create a more stimulating and engaging learning environment for our students," he says. "But the technology is just a tool. We need to make sure that, first and foremost, we have teachers who can teach. Once you put technology in the hands of a skilled teacher, it becomes a powerful tool that fosters collaboration and creativity."
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Author:Puente, Kelly
Publication:District Administration
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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