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Plugged In! Howard County Pilot Program Allows Electronic Devices In Class

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smartphones in classrooms
Christie Ileto 370 x 278 Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She...
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HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—Smartphones and tablets are welcome in classrooms. It’s part of a pilot program in Howard County.

Christie Ileto explains how students are plugging in.

It’s called Bring Your Own Device and allows students to use their own technology to improve learning in the classroom.

Hannah Gonzalez’s class may sound like a traditional Spanish course, but the way her students are learning the language is anything but.

Students’ smartphones, laptops and tablets are now allowed to be used in some classrooms.

“In Spanish class, it’s helped me with words I may not know how to pronounce, or finding words we haven’t learned yet,” a student said.

Mt. Hebron High School is one of three schools piloted for the Bring Your Own Device program.

Something, staff say, caters to each student.

“They can fit what’s their style the best, and the comfort in the technology they have,” said Scott Ruehl, principal.

But what happens if a student doesn’t have a smart phone or a tablet? Staff says no student is left out.

“I’ve really harnessed partners. Between you and your partner, can you get out a cell phone and use it for this purpose?” Gonzalez said. “I can always get three or four laptops from the mobile lab that they can use as well.”

But there are strings attached with the privilege of using a personal device.

Ruehl says students have to sign an acceptable use policy. And if the devices are used inappropriately, or in a way that disrupts class, it could mean a “revocation of use privileges, or disciplinary action.”

“This is a trust,” Ruehl said. “We trust them to use this properly, and we give them some guidelines, and I find that the kids actually do that.”

And that honor system of sorts allows students to stay plugged in.

The district also changed their cell phone policy, allowing students to talk and text on cells at lunch and in between classes– but not during class, unless used for educational purposes.

The school district says it will review the policy throughout the school year.

For more details on the policy, click here.

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