Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa County Schools Approve New Technology Rules

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa County Schools Approve New Technology Rules

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | Students will be allowed to bring cellphones, e- readers and other technological devices to school after the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved revisions in the system's technology policy.

Tom Perrymon, coordinator of technology for the county schools, said the county school board's policy banning students from bringing personal electronic devices to school is outdated.

He said the policy was last updated in 2004, before the use of such devices became widespread. Considering all the advances in technology that have occurred in the past eight years, he said that it's time for the county school system to catch up.

"A lot of things have changed since 2004," Perrymon said. "Things like cellphone use and social networking. We looked at some other school systems and pretty much every school system in the country has changed their technology policy to include bringing your own computer to school and having access and utilization of personal devices on campus."

To gather input on what students, parents and teachers thought about students bringing electronic devices to school, each group was surveyed.

Perrymon said surveys indicated that all three groups were in favor of students bringing electronic devices to school.

"In the teacher survey, 62 percent were in favor it," Perrymon said. "The student survey had 88 percent of students in favor of it, and in the parent survey, 77 percent favored it. That let us know that we had to update and modify our policy."

Perrymon said the revised policy basically states that any personal electronic device, such as a cellphone, an e-reader or a computer, can now be brought to school. However, the policy also states that each school will have rules establishing what is the appropriate use of personal technology.

"Each school may have specific terms on how and when students can use their personal devices," he said. "For example, if a cellphone is brought, it has to be put on silent or vibrate so it doesn't interrupt class."

One major issue that comes with allowing students to bring personal electronic devices to school is inappropriate use.

Students could use their cellphones to cheat on tests by texting each other the answers, or they could use them to send each other sexually explicit messages or photographs, which known as sexting. …

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