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Valley Welcomes Cell Phones in Classrooms

When the students in a Valley Regional High School social studies class wanted to discuss the results of the recent Republican presidential primary in Florida, they didn't head to the computer at the back of the classroom or the computers in the library. Instead, they picked up their cell phones.

The Region 4 Board of Education recently amended its policy on cellphone use in the classroom. These "personal electronic devices," as they are called in the school's new policy, are no longer prohibited. Once considered distractions, cell phones are considered learning tools.

Assistant Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained, "The cell phone can be an instructional tool in the classroom. It can be used for research. It can check facts instantaneously."

The high school began considering a change in its cell phone policy when students approached Neviaser, then principal at Valley Regional, with a proposal.

"This was a student-generated initiative and it has the full support of the faculty. The objective is to use technology in the right way," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Levy said. "Technology is here. It is the wave of the future. We have to recognize it and adapt to it in a responsible, accountable, and ethical way."

The high school administration will monitor the effectiveness of the policy-it has been approved only as a pilot program until June 20-and then determine if it should be altered or made permanent. The policy applies only to Valley Regional High School. Levy said she believed only six or seven other school districts in the state have similar policies. One is Region 13, which includes Durham and Middlefield.

"They believe this policy is wholly successful," she said.

"The intention of this trial period is to determine whether or not the use of personal electronic devices will enhance the learning environment for the students at Valley Regional High School," the pilot policy reads.

It continues, "The procedures regarding the use of personal electronic devices will be as follows:

• All classroom use of personal electronic devices is at the sole discretion of the teacher. Students will be able to use devices only at a time and in the manner that the teacher permits, and are not to use them in class at other times or for other uses.

• Use of personal electronic devices in non-classroom settings, including but not limited to, the library media center and the cafeteria, will be permitted as long as such use does not interfere with the educational process.

• Use of personal devices while traveling in the halls is potentially dangerous, therefore, it is prohibited."

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