The digital dilemma growing inside schools

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There’s no doubt that technology can make learning more interesting. Fun would be an understatement for most children when it comes to time spent on digital devices in the classroom.

But teachers worry that no one is teaching the social graces of using smartphones and tablets in the school. CBS42 talked to a teacher in one school who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The teacher says a new “bring your own device” policy has them fearful about what could happen outside the classroom when no one monitors a student’s use of technology inside the classroom.

If a school system cannot afford to buy every student a tablet, in some cases they allow students to bring their own digital device to class.

In Jefferson County, where the teacher CBS42 spoke to works as a middle school teacher, that means students can bring laptops, netbooks, iPods, iPads and cell phones.

The school district’s website says the initiative went into effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

“Teachers are being recorded without consent. We’ve had incidences where teachers have been saved as the backdrop on students’ cell phones where that can cause harassment concerns,” says the teacher.

Those concerns were brought about because it was a female student with a picture of a male teacher.

“Come to find out the student had a crush on the teacher. The teacher was unaware of the situation,” the teacher said. “The only thing that happened to the student was the student was asked to remove the picture off of the phone.”

Students sign a form saying they’ll use their devices for learning in the classroom, but when they don’t, the teacher says there is no consequence for those actions.

“The only thing we can do, pretty much, is, ‘Okay. You need to erase this off your phone.’ And that’s pretty much it,” the teacher said. “If a student takes a picture of another student, they can be class three, and that same rule doesn’t apply to a teacher.”

Some people may look at the concerns raised by the teacher and attribute them to kids just being kids.

But those actions could negatively impact a teacher’s career.

“That’s the look of it. This is what kids do. Oh, this is just a ninth grader. Oh, they’re just a teenager, the teacher said. “It’s child’s play. Your child’s play hurts my career, and we’re not educating the kids on that.”

In other states, such as North Carolina, students are not allowed to make fake profiles of teachers online. If they post real images of a teacher or make statements that lead to harassment of that teacher, it’s a crime and students can be prosecuted.

CBS42 did talk to the Jefferson County board of Education. Jefferson County Board of Education spokesperson Nez Calhoun says, “Some JefCoEd schools are permitting BYOD use on a daily basis during the instructional process. Examples would be research, writing, homework, and term papers.”

When told that the teacher in our report had disparaging remarks about the Bring Your Own Device initiative Calhoun declined to comment.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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