ONALASKA, Wis. -- While textbooks are still a major source of information for students, technology use is growing in our schools including Ms. Vogler's 8th grade language arts class at Onalaska Middle School.
"We work really hard to give our students as much access to as much information as possible," said Vogler.
However, when it comes to using technology to get that information, Ms. Vogler has met some challenges.
"We often don't have enough access for all the students in the class at one time," said Vogler.
So, 8th graders at Onalaska Middle School are piloting a new program called Bring Your Own Device which allows students to bring in any internet capable device like smart phones, iPods or e-readers to be used in class for research.
"Two days ago, we ran out of iPads," said 8th grader Shane Kucharczyk. "So, I just pulled out my iPod Touch and used it then."
"When a student brings in their own device, where we may need 30 devices to outfit a classroom, now we may only need five or ten," said Jed Kees, Onalaska Middle School principal.
That's because the school will only have to provide a piece of technology to students who don't already have their own. This allows more classrooms to be connected to the world wide web at the same time without the expense.
"To be a one-to-one school, where every student has a device in their hand, is not very cost effective," said Kees. "So, if there are ways that we can get towards that - take a step in that direction with the help of students and families - it's a good thing to do."
The 8th graders will be allowed to carry their devices from core class to core class and the teacher will decide when and how the technology will be used
"So, for instance, if I have a testing situation where no devices are needed, I can have all the students set their devices down and turn them off; set them up on the front table. Nobody has access to them," said Vogler. "At the end of the class they pick up their device and off they go."
However, Ms. Vogler admits that teachers realize allowing students to have smart phones and iPods in class could become a management issue, but educators at Onalaska Middle School are hoping this program will help students learn how to use technology properly.
"Our kids exist in a digital world," said Kees. "And we were asking them to shut it off when they walked in the building. We thought that by helping them be responsible digital citizens, they would enhance not only what we do in the classroom, but the experience they're taking away from school."