Texting in the classroom

Texting in the classroom

As technology becomes increasingly diversified, fulfilling not only entertainment expectations but educational ones as well, FCPS is seriously considering allowing electronics in the classroom. In fact, many teachers have already implemented technology in their classroom lessons, and Jack Dale says bans on potential learning tools such as cell phones could be lifted as early as mid-year.

Cell Phones

Langley has always been opposed to cell phone use in schools, labeling them a distraction and a detriment to the educational system; but with the increasing role that technology plays in students’ everyday life, this policy may be changing.

“We are currently looking at changing the policy, because cell phones these days have so many functions and features, that it would seem like a waste to ignore its potential for helping students both understand and balance their classes and course load,” said Principal Matthew Ragone.

Teachers like Ms. Rebeca Prell have already begun to utilize cell phone technology in their classrooms with group discussions and smart board polls that bring a greater level of involvement for each student. “I believe that we can’t stop students being so involved with technology and so we have to use it as a tool to give them a better chance at succeeding,” said Ms. Prell.

A large portion of the student body believes that permitting cell phone use would help students clarify questions they have and get work done faster and more efficiently. In a poll of 100 Langley students, 91 percent of the student body said they would welcome and enjoy the opportunity to use their cell phones in class.

Nonetheless, many teachers still oppose the use of cell phones in their class, citing the large potential it has to distract students. “There is no way to know if a student truly is using his smart phone for looking up relevant information or to text and just waste time, which I believe the biggest risk in permitting cell phone us,” said mathematics teacher Mr. Florin Cuc.

Another argument for continuing with a strict anti-cell phone policy is the fact that this policy would pressure students who want to maximize their new technological opportunity to purchase or switch to a smart phone.. “I only own a basic cell phone that gives me just the basic text and call package, and I feel like I would be at a major disadvantage if everyone else had Internet capable smart phones,” said senior Jamie Mulligan.

As Langley High School and much of Fairfax County debates this issue, with technology becoming even more advanced, tools such as cell phones, as well as laptops, have the chance to become a significant part of the educational system.

Lap Attack

As more technology is integrated into classes, the controversy over laptop usage is still at bay. This has left students pondering over how soon it will be until teachers allow them to bring in laptops.

Currently, Fairfax County students are not only allowed, but are sometimes encouraged to bring laptops to school as computer shortages have become a major problem amongst schools in the county.

“We don’t have enough laptops to accommodate the students here,” said technology specialist Mr. Nick Choobineh. While bringing in laptops may serve as a temporary solution, problems will soon arise when students try to connect to the Langley server.

“Students won’t be able to access the school folder, printers, or a secure wireless network,” said Choobineh.

English teacher, Ms. Jennifer Bonafide, has allowed students to bring in laptops to take notes with and do homework on, due to laptop shortage in school. “If computers run out, I wouldn’t refrain from allowing them to do it a second time,” said Bonafide.

“I think laptops would be wonderful for students to be able to use for homework and notes,” said English teacher Mrs. Jessica Roche. “I think that students could do their work much better and faster than ever before.”

Where is the line drawn, and when will students be definitively asked to bring in their own laptops?

In Hand to On Screen

Many history and social studies classes in Fairfax County are beginning to implement online textbooks into the curriculum. Schools will be purchasing netbooks for use in class and for checkout by students daily or annually.

Hayfield High School has already adopted netbooks into regular use.

“Online books offer a lot more resources than just the standard print book, including but not limited to review quizzes, additional sources, interactive activities, embedded videos, and having the book read out loud,” said Mr. Steve Plunkett, Langley World History teacher

Fairfax County is making the transition to online textbooks, in hopes of keeping up with the ever-changing technological world around us. However, some students are not pleased with the change

“I don’t like online textbooks because I personally need to hold the text in my hands. Plus, if it was online, there are too many possible distractions,” said senior Emily Swain

As netbooks are incorporated in the curriculum, students will continue to be provided with print textbooks, in case online access is not possible. As the trend continues, math will most likely be the next subject to make the switch to online.

Kindles in the classroom

Kindles are up and coming resources in education, as well. The possibility of incorporating an electronic book into the classroom is becoming more of a reality. “It would be advantageous to have easy access to not only the in-class source, but also outside resources,” said English teacher Ms. Kathryn Weber. The  Kindle, an electronic book, allows readers to browse and download writings ranging from textbooks to newspapers. First released in 2007, Kindle has since been refined in three later versions. Advantages to using an electronic medium, such as a Kindle, would include fast access to texts, ability to view extensive amounts of literature, and overall expansion of teaching style. However, there may be some downfalls to using this new form of technology as a learning tool. “I suppose it could make reading more enjoyable for some students, if that’s what they prefer, but I wouldn’t personally use it,” said school librarian Mr. Clark. “Converting everything in society to electronic medium is definitely making it harder to concentrate on one set of ideas or text—damaging to the thought process.”