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    Posted August 11, 2011 by
    Atlanta, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Tech talk

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    More American students use personal tech devices in the classroom


    (ATLANTA, Ga) -- The classroom has entered a new chapter in learning and research.


    Technology in your child's classroom has begun a new phase across America as teachers encourage students to bring their personal technology devices to school to broaden their education.


    Computer laptops, iPads and Internet driven cellular phones -- once shunned by the school system as a no-no in the classroom -- are now  urged by educators for their students to bring in to school with the  acceptance of their parents.


    In Forsyth County, located north of Atlanta, a student program Bring Your Own Technology kicked off in early 2010, and was well  received by both students and teachers as they began using the new  technologies in a fun learning environment.


    Several other states such as Ohio and Michigan have had much success with the program.


    Georgia school systems are hoping the BYOT program will encourage  brainstorming, creativity and the development of new ideas which are  lacking in most text books.


    Schools over the summer break expanded the bandwidth of their wireless Internet in support of the higher network traffic this Fall.


    Students involved in the program have seen their grades increase as  teachers use edcational applications on the devices to expand on how a  subject is taught.


    Educational related Apps are downloadable into the student's device  from home and support math, reading, science and english to name a few. Sony's Android and apple's iTunes are two places for obtaining the Apps.


    A few parents are not necessarily in support of the new program.


    "I think allowing kids to bring (devices) to school could become a distraction," Becky Castro, a school mom of four near Atlanta says from  the opposite side of the aisle. "Parents can provide ample  opportunities to enhance their child's learning at home with all the resources available to them without the distractions that come from bringing expensive devices to school."


    School officials in Forsyth respond by saying BYOT was started in the classroom to allow educators to teach at the current technology level.


    Officials add students are unable to visit select social media Web sites through the school's Internet network, thus sites such as Facebook  and Twitter remain off limits to unauthorized browsing.


    At Forsyth's Midway Elementary, young students last year brought  in their iPod Touch or iPad loaded with special educational applications  to assist in the learning process in this the second decade of the 21st century.


    In Dr. Cathie Gober's classroom at Midway, she directed her students to shoot  video segments on their devices as they read stories or solved math problems. They then featured the movies on the screen at the front of the classroom.


    "I talked to my students about the opportunity, and they were so excited!", Dr. Gober said as she prepares for the first day of school this week. "We decided we would all learn and explore together. My students and I searched for free educational apps and had a great time learning all about the IPods together."


    As the new school year begins, students will again be encouraged to bring in their personal technology.


    Students who may not have opportunities to use a home computer or  lack the money to purchase a hand held device will be loaned during the day a school owned device to stay connected with the course of study.


    For most schools, the technology funds for the tech devices and to  upgrade the school's bandwidth comes from county funds, according to Jennifer Emmert, an Instructional Technology Specialist at Midway.


    Schools such as Midway were given a small number of iPod Touches last year to share through out the classrooms to support the children in  need.


    School educators and superintendents from across America are traveling to north Atlanta and Ohio to see first hand how the program is working.


    Student interest in learning has increased in several states which saw a higher average in test scores during 2010-11.


    Most parents are in favor of the new educational program, however, a  few parents worry about their child's device being lost or stolen at  school or on the bus.


    "I just could not face having my child's data phone lost at school," said Mrs. Jill Danbury of Akron, Ohio when asked of her concerns. "I  trust my child but fear someone may want it more."


    Teachers have stepped up with a secure approach to ensure their student's technology is safe during the day with locking cabinets and monitors.


    Educators at several schools this science reporter spoke with gave positive comments on the BYOT program, and said they look forward to  future enhancements in how they taught.


    As the program expands across the United States, educational  applications on technology devices could put an end to the simple  classroom hallmark -- the pencil.




    (Charles Atkeison is a space and science writer. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)


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