Seattle schools testing out mobile devices in classrooms

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on September 20, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 20 at 9:55 AM

SEATTLE - Do mobile devices, like iPads and eReaders, belong in the classroom? That is the question the Seattle Public School district is working to answer.

Eric Caldwell is the district manager of Library Services and Classroom Technology. Caldwell said in regards to mobile devices, the problems facing the district include the cost and monitoring the content.
 
"It is difficult for us because those resources bring other things. They bring advertisements. They bring people in a social network we can't control. We want to make sure students have a safe environment," said Caldwell.
 
Several Seattle schools are testing out programs where iPads are rolled into classrooms on carts. Students share the devices which come with programs that keep all users on educational sites. At Ballard High school, librarian Debbie Arthur manages several carts filled with laptops that can be moved between classrooms.
 
"Whenever one of those rolls out of here, it's my library rolling out the door," said Arthur.
 
More students having access to laptops, brings up the question of how much web is too much? Ballard High Principal Keven Wynkoop wants to make sure online material is used as an educational tool in the classroom.  

"I wish I could ignore Facebook and Twitter because I often hear the negative side of things," said Wynkoop.  

The negatives include things like online bullying, according to Wynkoop. However, he cannot ignore the fact that many of the 1,600 students at the high school are using social networking daily at home.

"It's important to be reminded that there are ways to effectively use these sites also. They can really help us form amazing relationships with information, with people, that doesn't require them to be in the same room," said Wynkoop.

Currently, the Seattle School District blocks Facebook, Twitter and MySpace on school computers used by students. Some YouTube videos are accessible. Caldwell said social networking in the classroom is the subject of an ongoing debate.

"This year is going to be an experimental year in trying to figure out what would be the wider policies for the district," said Caldwell. "How do we keep it beneficial and not distracting?"
 

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