School-sponsored PDAs in the classroom?


A colleague sent along this article detailing how some public schools are issuing PDAs to third, fourth, and fifth graders in an effort to render them comfortable with the technology, and as another medium through which they can learn.  For example, they can use it to draw pictures, write essays, study flash cards, and take photos.  The vast majority of schools are not this progressive, and most can’t afford such a program, but I think it’s ingenious and would love to see additional districts responsibly implement it.

Elementary schoolers do need to become familiar and proficient with these technologies (to keep pace with peers, and because learning about many things should start as early as possible).  Using them in school allows for a number of “teachable moments” to instruct kids on their proper use (and how they should not be misused).  Some educators expect parents to teach youth about cyberbullying and responsible social networking since parents see their children using the devices all the time (i.e., more than administrators and teachers see it).  Having the technology used in a positive way within the school system may induce and even compel educators to bear their share of the burden in promoting digital citizenship.  Furthermore, it may finally force teachers and administrators to get up to speed with the pros and cons of online communication tools if they are strongly encouraged (or even required) to use them to facilitate instruction during the new school year.

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