By Mayara Sanches
Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer
GRAND LEDGE — Grand Ledge High School is working on its network system to expand the use of technology in classrooms.
While the high school’s network is not yet able to support a system, it offers many Apple products, like iPads and Macs, that rotate between the classes that need it.
“When the students are using the school network, we have to be careful so they don’t bring virus into our network,” said Brody Boucher, Grand Ledge School Board president. “We have the ability to block some content.”
Since new cellphones and portable technological gadgets became popular, school officials believe that students should be able to find information quickly and have it at their fingertips.
Boucher said the high school wants to partly implement the “flipped classroom” model, in which the students find the information they need, and the teachers assist them in that area.
“We’re not there yet and we don’t know if we want to be like that all the time, but it’s a way for teachers to facilitate the learning,” he said.
Students at the high school are able to check out laptops, iMacs, MacBooks and many iPads, said John Braccio, Grand Ledge High School psychologist. The availability of those devices gives them access to an infinite amount of information.
“In any topic, they will have the information at their fingertips and an unlimited amount of information,” Braccio said. “They can do a lot more without driving anywhere, so from their houses or a lot of restaurants.”
High school students are now able to check out that equipment, but children entering kindergarten and first grade in the Grand Ledge elementary schools will own their own gadget.
“It’s a district-wide program, where younger grades started a program, where everyone has to buy an iPad, and there will be a lot adapting,” Braccio said.
When each student has his or her iPad, laptop or smartphone, they are able to find information that they would not find in a traditional textbook.
Besides having access to more and newer information that is constantly being updated, technology will make it easier for students to work together, said Christine Greenhow, social media in learning specialist.
“Technology can facilitate new forms of collaboration, reading and writing, digital creation and more,” Greenhow said.
Greenhow said that while educators cannot assume that all teens are accessing social media and technological tools equally, the modern era facilitates the access to those.
Technology shapes educational practices and new pedagogies suggest changes in learning theory,” she said. “Teachers can incorporate social media before, during and after their class to help students engage more readily with other students in and outside the class as well as their instructor.”
Among other ways to incorporate technology into the classroom and to have a positive outcome are: to encourage students to keep up with course-related material and receive feedback from more than one person at a time on any assignment. Both build a sense of belonging in a student.
Although social media and its implementation in the classroom have benefits such as connecting teens, it also might bring their attention to entertainment on the internet such as online games found at bingobeaver.com or apps, which is a distraction.
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The many gadgets should be used in classrooms so that teachers can better engage their students in lectures — such as sharing slide shows, videos and photos.
With more than 800,000 apps from the Apple App Store, according to the Global Mobile Statistics, students can easily have access to distractions. Many teachers cannot monitor what each individual student is doing or seeing in their device.
“Kids might start wasting time playing stupid games and having meaningless conversations with a friend, and that won’t help their learning,” said Kalmin Smith, Grand Ledge mayor. “There are a bunch of anonymous people doing nasty stuff.”
Because there are so many devices and about 2,000 students that attend Grand Ledge High School, the school’s faculty and staff cannot monitor what each teenager posts on their social media websites.
School staff are allowed to look at student posts if they are, for example, “friends” with the student on Facebook, or if the student and the school’s Twitter pages “follow” each other on the website.
“Because of the way that kids in school now have been brought up with and choose to use technology, they sacrifice a great deal of their own privacy,” said Martin Underhill, Grand Ledge police chief. “They have to keep in mind that when they put something out on the internet, they can’t pull it back.”
Underhill said he has been involved in situations where people become uncomfortable with the consequences of their posts, because the post was broadcast around the city.
Although it happens to people all ages, high school students have to be careful with what they post because if it affects another student, and the post has a consequence at the school, the students who posted can be penalized.
“We don’t monitor, but we have Facebook pages,” Underhill said. “We’re part of that generation.”
Grand Ledge High School has had a School Resource Officer since 1998 — the first year there was a school officer in the mid-Michigan area — and Underhill said the officer is responsible for the students and the school just like a city officer has responsibility for the city.
“(The school) is like a small village, so the SRO has community responsibilities, which means addressing ‘quality of life issues’ or issues that could lead to crime, like maybe students aren’t getting along and it looks like it’s becoming something more than just words,” he said.
Being able to intervene in situations where a student might be threatened is a power the officer has. If the officer finds something on the internet that might affect a student’s life, the officer will be used as a peer mediator to keep teenagers at the school safe.
Contact reporter Mayara Sanches (248) 464-2993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
High school students have more access to social media and technology in schools implemented to help improve their learning speed and abilities.
https://storify.com/mayasanches/revising-grand-ledge-high-school-social-media-use”>Storify / Magisto