Keystone Oaks School District News Article

B.Y.O.D.: Bring Your Own Device

In the modern day-and-age, technology is an ever-present factor of life. It's many applications and forms have become integral to the autonomy of society at large, and this, of course, extends to the classroom.

As of 2017, the current policy on technology at Keystone Oaks is known as the “Bring Your Own Device” Program. Introduced in the school year of 2016, this program states that all students and faculty are allowed to bring their own electronics, such as phones, tablets, and laptops, provided that their use in the classroom is appropriate.

“Starting at the beginning of the second semester, Dr. Hartbauer has given the go ahead to teachers and staff to allow students to use their own tablets, laptops, or smartphones in classrooms when appropriate. This new setup can lessen the amount of papers and books students require to complete their classwork and homework.”

Students transitioning from middle school and high school seniors alike both know the terrors of the book-packed bookbag. Placement of the underclassmen lockers often leads to students foregoing them entirely and carrying all their supplies around on their person rather than make a few pit stops during the day.

Now, with the B.Y.O.D. policy in place, students and faculty are free to lug devices around instead of 40 pounds of paper weight. Additionally, though libraries and computer labs have  always had computers in them, KO now has various cart full of chromebooks if teachers will be needing computers for the day.

Many teachers were rather quick to embrace this available tech; the AP US History course has an extensive catalogue of assignments and due dates available for students on Google Classroom. Google Classroom, like all of google academically inclined programs such as Google Slides or Docs, is accessible anywhere provided a user has an internet connection and a device that can connect to said internet.

“I actually took a class at Duquesne University and got a master’s degree in IT,” detailed science teacher Mrs. Chimento, “I think tech has got a huge role in the classroom, because it’s what most kids today grew up with.”

In this sense, technology in the classroom is undeniably invaluable. If a student misses a day, they no longer need to scramble to figure out what they missed; simply check the Google Classroom and you’re past the panic and straight to work. Accessibility, however, is only one side of the coin for the topic. Technology has its recreational uses as well as educational.

“I’m mostly tolerant of technology, though that does come with the exception of cell phones.”

Phones are a phenomenal tool for connecting to the rest of the world and all that it has to show. Youtube sees people broadcast themselves and become household names with enough effort and wikipedia compiles, it seems, a rather complete knowledge of just about anything you could think of, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find that site cited anywhere else.

The problem comes when some students have difficulty disconnecting. Having one’s phone on their person alone can be a distraction, according to some studies, and while the policy before was to confiscate a phone if it’s used in class, times have changed; it’s not nearly that simple anymore.

Teachers are mostly free to decide the boundaries of tech use and presence in the classroom. While Mrs. Kandrack of the math division embraces phones completely with the use of in-class warm-ups on the phone, Mrs. Chimento remains respectfully traditional, asking that students put the devices away for the duration of the period.

Phones are a very useful tool in and outside of the classroom, but wit doesn’t take much for them to become a hindrance. It’s important to understand the issue completely instead of blindly swaying one way or the other. As she stated, Chemento went to Duquesne for a degree, and many teachers at KO, like Mrs. Celli and Mrs. Smith, work exclusively with computers.

Everything has a useful application in one way or another, what’s important is that checks and balances lie in place so such tools are used and not abused.

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