When Lakota high school students arrive for the first day of school Thursday, they will be able to use something in the classroom that they haven’t been able to use before – their cell phone.
Based on the recommendation by students of the state’s seventh-largest school system, the Lakota school board approved revised policies that now allow its students to use personal Wireless Communication Devices (WCDs) in school.
Students voiced their desire to use WCDs, which include laptop computers, tablets, e-book readers, some iPods and all types of mobile phones, during student-led focus groups with Lakota officials. The focus groups took place in May, as the school district looked for more effective ways to educate its students.
While the students got their wish, there is a catch, as they can only use their wireless devices for instructional purposes and with the permission of a teacher.
Students will also be able to use the devices before and after school, during lunch, and in between classes as long as they’re not creating a distraction, disruption or otherwise interfering with the educational environment.
“This is something we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Ben Dibble, president of the Lakota Board of Education. “Wireless devices are part of many workplaces and part of daily life, and they need to be part of schools as well, especially with all the new ways they can be used in the classroom.”
Beginning this fall, Lakota East and Lakota West high schools will be piloting a “Bring Your Own Technology” initiative. The data collected from the initiative will provide the district a model for a broader rollout of the program.
“A major impetus for this came from the students,“ Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia said. “They told us last year that they have these devices and they want to use them in class, for learning, just as they use them in so many other areas of their lives.”
Obviously, there will be restrictions on student use of WCDs. For example, students will not be allowed to use devices in locker rooms or bathrooms. They will also be required to turn off their phones during tests or throughout testing week.
Students, who violate the district’s policy on WCDs, may be subject to discipline and may have their device confiscated. Illegal activity will prompt the district to alert local law enforcement.
For more information on rules and restrictions of WCDs in the classroom, visit lakotaonline.com.