Primary Schools Encouraging Students To Bring Their Own Technology To Class

March 24th, 2013

Fascinating report from the Times.

Educators and policy makers continue to debate whether computers are a good teaching tool. But a growing number of schools are adopting a new, even more controversial approach: asking students to bring their own smartphones, tablets, laptops and even their video game players to class.

Officials at the schools say the students’ own devices are the simplest way to use a new generation of learning apps that can, for example, teach them math, test them with quizzes and enable them to share and comment on each other’s essays.

Advocates of this new trend, called B.Y.O.T. for bring your own technology, say there is another advantage: it saves money for schools short of cash.

For instance, a recent assignment entailed learning about fractions by using an app called “Factor Samurai.” A number appears on the screen, and the student is supposed to cut it with a finger — as if slicing with a Samurai sword — so that it gets cut into smaller values. But students lose points if they try to slice through prime numbers.

Ms. Zacharko will also start class discussion on a reading assignment by asking students to use their devices to write comments in an online forum. “Their typing is amazing on these devices,” she said.

The fact that students in the same classroom can use many different devices is not a handicap because they are all using the same lessons on the Internet, said Lenny Schad, former chief information officer in the Katy Independent School District near Houston, which started a program with a different moniker: B.Y.O.D., for Bring Your Own Device.

“The Internet is the great equalizer,” Mr. Schad said.

He added that students’ devices were not meant to be a substitute for teachers, but could be used as tools for assignments. He noted that the concept was catching on; he said he had given dozens of presentations to other districts and educators about his district’s initiative.


This article should serve as a sign for how law students in the very near future will expect to learn. Banning technology in the classroom may be productive enough, but will become tougher as more and more of these students, who were bred on smart devices, make their way into the classroom.

Today, I was having lunch with my agent, and we were talking about the shift from selling hard-cover books to ebooks. He related a fascinating anecdote. He saw a young child, maybe a year old in a park, looking at a book. The child was poking at the book with his fingers, as if he was playing with an iPad, and upset nothing happened. He didn’t understand that to turn the page of a book you can’t swipe. Another friend recently told me that his 2-year old child can type on an iPad, but lacks the physical dexterity to hold a pen. Imagine that. A toddler can learn to write earlier than he could otherwise because of an iPad.

This is our future–whether you like it or not.