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September 17. 2013 11:24PM

Pinkerton gives OK to technology in classrooms


Pinkerton Academy in Derry has launched a program that allows students to bring smartphones and laptops into the classroom, as long as parents give permission.Hunter McGee 

DERRY — Instead of giving a lengthy answer to a student's question, some teachers at Pinkerton Academy this year might be overheard saying, "just Google it."

Under a new technological program launched this year, students can bring their smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices into the classroom, said Beverly Lannan, dean of faculty. The devices can be used for doing research on Google or to view educational videos online, Lannan said.

"We have done some training and we are hoping teachers can use the technology for instruction and students can use it as a learning tool," Lannan said.

Students will have to sign a personal device contract and their parents would have to give consent for them to participate, Lannan said. By signing the form, students will also acknowledge that they will only use the devices for educational purposes. Students whose parents don't provide consent will be allowed to use other more traditional methods of research, she added.

The program was approved just last spring by the school's Board of Trustees. In previous years, the Internet was available and students could go online at the school's media center.

"We've always had the Internet," Lannan said. "We just didn't allow all these devices in the classroom. So, we have opened it up a lot more compared to last year."

While other high schools have used similar programs in recent years, change has come more slowly to Pinkerton. Administrators wanted to get a good grasp of the program before bringing it to teachers and students, Lannan said.

Last year, teachers attended workshops so they could become more comfortable with the technology and to find ways to incorporate it in the classroom, she said. So far, Lannan said she hasn't heard any negative feedback from teachers as to how the program is faring in the classroom.

"I think as more teachers become comfortable and get more training, the more we'll see them using this technology," Lannan said.

While some parents would welcome the technology, Lannan said she understood some parents might be hesitant to allow their students to participate .

Parent Brenda Modrak, of Derry, said Tuesday she had mixed emotions about the program. While the technology might assist some students, Modrak said she was concerned other students might take advantage of the opportunity.

"I think they would be sending text messages," Modrak said. "A teacher only has two eyes and can't see everybody at the same time."

Modrak's triplets are juniors at the school. Modrak said she could see her children using the technological devices in college, but not in high school.

"We don't have smart phones for the kids, nor do we have extra laptops, so for us, it's a moot point. In college, 'yes,' but not in high school."

One of Modrak's children, Stephanie, 16, said she has seen some students using their iPhones to do research in her English class.

"I guess it's helpful as long as the kids are using it for the correct purpose," the junior said.


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