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Schools Open Doors to Students’ Mobile Devices

October 21, 2010

More schools are doing an about-face as they change policies to allow the use of student-owned mobile devices in class

By Ian Quillen

At Oak Hills High School in suburban Cincinnati, students returned from summer break to learn they were free not only to bring their mobile devices to school, but also to use them—at their teachers’ discretion—to connect to the school’s wireless network to do their work.

At Cumberland Valley High near Harrisburg, Pa., district officials have approved a similar policy on a pilot basis after deep and repeated discussions with administrators, teachers, and parents.

And in Chicago, the Mikva Challenge’s student-leadership branch suggested in an August report that the city’s public schools allow students to use their own smartphones on campus for learning.

“The students do see [a smartphone] as a potential learning tool,” says Jessica Gingold, an education-council program coordinator for the Mikva Challenge, a nonprofit group dedicated to developing young civic leaders, activists, and policymakers by exposing them to political opportunities. “But that’s not their [primary message]. Their [message] is that we need to start changing the policy, and using the resources that are already available.”

The point, say proponents of mobile learning, is not that discussions about enabling such learning are at varying stages, but that they are happening at all. More…

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