By: Sharon Aron Baron
Cellphones are usually forbidden during class at most Broward County Public Schools, however, students at Coral Springs High School, are encouraged to use them through the “Bring Your Own Technology” initiative, which incorporates smartphone usage into many lesson plans.
The program is in its second year at the high school and also allows student’s laptops and netbooks. The BYOT program first appeared at a state conference where Principal Susan Leon-Leigh and her staff saw how it was being implemented by other schools and brought it to Coral Springs High School.
“We started it a couple years ago and felt we needed to embrace technology…it’s a way to close to the digital divide,” explained Assistant Principal Pamela Voss who said that sometimes a student’s technology on their own smartphones is better and faster than the school’s.
Through BYOT, smartphones are incorporated into daily lesson plans said Voss. “A foreign language teacher may have students use an app on their phone as a translator or a social studies teacher may have students do in-class research on their phones.”
According to district policy, students are not allowed to use cellphones during class, however, with the BYOT initiative, phone are not only used during the lesson plan, they can also use them to take a photo of their assignments written out on the board. It gives them the flexibility of texting or emailing it to themselves, or to a friend, who may not have the information.
“By using smartphones, and not the wireless cart, we can use it somewhere else that is needed,” explained Voss.
Voss said that the majority of teachers at Coral Springs High School also utilize a web-based way to communicate with their students through “text blasts” on their smartphones. The teachers use an app, set up the phone numbers of the students, and text them important assignment or class information. The students can’t respond, but it’s a great way to communicate, she said.
Broward County Schools may soon be starting the program as well, calling it “BYOD” or Bring Your Own Device.
Said Voss, “The majority of our students have a cellphone. They may not all have nice computers, or even have a computer at their home, but they all have cellphones.”