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Ripon High allowing smartphones for class work
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RIPON – Superintendent Louise Johnson recalled helping high school students prepare for an Academic Decathlon.

When stumped by a question, she promptly gave them permission to ‘Google’ the answer by using their cell phone.

“You don’t want to lose their enthusiasm (for learning) at the moment,” Johnson said at Monday’s Ripon Unified School District meeting.

Trustees gave their OK on a one-year “Open Access” pilot program at Ripon High that allows students to bring personal electronic learning devices to school.

Personal technology here is defined as “computers, smart phones, network access devices, or other electronic signaling devices.”

Ripon High Principal Lance Morrow indicated that the plan, in order to become a board policy, would need to undergo a year-end review including any necessary changes.

“It’s a RHS policy for now,” he said, noting that most high school students, particularly seniors, are responsible enough to understand the dos and don’ts of the program.

The RHS policy took many of elements from the one used at Riverside Unified, according to Morrow.

“We pulled a lot from the Riverside policy after attending a presentation held in Lindsay,” he said.

Monitoring will be the key, with the teachers defining the appropriate use of the technology in the classroom.

“We want to take advantage of the new wireless technology,” Morrow said. “We went to get jump started rather than (wait) for funds to become available.”

Students could soon use their cell phone to conduct research, access curriculum resources, or complete their assignments. School officials believe such technology in the classroom could also enhance parent involvement.

The policy stated: “RHS technology resources shall only be used to access educational information and to promote learning activities both at school and home, including the facilitation of communication between the home and school.”

RHS officials are hoping to have the pilot program off and running for the 2012-13 school year.

In order to bring their personal technology to the classroom, students, under the plan, would have to enter into an agreement with the school.

Parts of the policy reads as a disclaimer: “RUSD shall not be responsible for any damages suffered by the student, including those arising from non-deliveries, misdeliveries, service interruptions, unauthorized use, loss of data, and exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material or people.”

Trustees were especially concerned about misuse or cheating in the classroom.

In this case, students, if caught, would face disciplinary action including expulsion.

As specified in the policy: “Access is a privilege, not a right.”