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Schools prepare to embrace the brave new world

Posted: August 11, 2013 - 12:07am
Once considered distractions, iPads, iPhones and other similar devices are now being allowed in Columbia County schools to be used as educational devices.   Photo Illustration
Photo Illustration
Once considered distractions, iPads, iPhones and other similar devices are now being allowed in Columbia County schools to be used as educational devices.

If you can’t beat them, join them.

On the surface, that might seem to be the logic behind the “Bring Your Own Technology” initiative in Columbia County schools this year.

Faced with the relentless onslaught of smartphones and mobile tablets crashing against the school gates each day, school administrators have opted for a strategic retreat, allowing in technological forces thave have already inundated every other area of modern society.

Instead of banning these omnipresent sources of distraction, students will be urged to bring their iPhones and Androids to class to use as tools for education.

It might look like retreat to some, but I think another miltary term is more apt: seizing the initiative.

Let’s face it. Today’s students are connected to technology and the world on constant information in ways that few could have imagined even 10 years ago.

That is only going to intensify in coming years. How and when the next technological revolution will begin is not something I have the imagination to contemplate.

I am sure of one thing: someone who is in high school or middle school today will be leading it.

School officials have wisely decided to get on this train rather than stand in front of it. Associate Superintendent Jeff Carney says the goal is to have all the counties high schools equipped with a robust wireless network by January. Until then, some classes will allow students – who have parental permisssion and sign a code of conduct aggreement – to use their mobile phone networks for access.

I think this is the correct way to address these issues. School administrators are trying to get a handle on this technology and make it useful, rather than vainly attempting to shut out what has already breached their doors.

Will there be problems? Oh, most assuredly, there will be.

No network will ever be secure enough to defeat some clever and determined teenagers. Disappointments, scandals and outrages may occurr.

“This will be a work in progress this year, but we are very hopeful that our students are responsible enough to handle this privilege appropriately,” Carney wrote to me in an email.

I hope so, too. Let’s also hope our school officials have the determination and patience to stay the course and wisdom to figure out how to best use this for our students.

So, plunge forward; proceed with caution.

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