Nightly News | May 06, 2012
LESTER HOLT, anchor: For years now there's been a love-hate relationship between schools and technology, embracing traditional digital tools like PCs and Macs , while scorning those that often distract kids from their work, like game systems. Now one Georgia school district is changing that equation by inviting kids to bring their own devices. More now from our chief education correspondent Rehema Ellis .
REHEMA ELLIS reporting: Lester , two years ago Forsyth County School District , which is just outside of Atlanta , began a new technology program in seven of its schools. Now all 35 are participating in what one organizer thinks could be the next big thing in education. Clickers in Ohio , iPads in Kentucky , eBooks in Texas , tablets in New Jersey . The technology trend in education has gone viral.
Ms. TRACEY ABERCROMBIE (5th Grade Teacher): Quickly, just do your first name.
ELLIS: Now one district in Georgia is taking it to another level, not just incorporating electronics, but encouraging students to bring their own. It's called BYOT .
Mr. TIM CLARK (Instructional Technology Specialist): BYOT stands for bring your own technology. We're taking away the banning and the blocking and instead trying to help guide students in the appropriate and responsible ways to use their devices.
Unidentified Boy #1: IPhone 4S.
Unidentified Girl #1: The Kindle Fire.
Unidentified Boy #2: Nintendo because it's fun.
ELLIS: Using their devices, students research, do assignments, create instructional videos, and even quiz themselves.
Girl #1: It's been amazing because all the teachers say, oh, wow, I can actually do this. And they're also learning with us.
ELLIS: Unlike the students, some teachers were not as quick to sign on.
Ms. ABERCROMBIE: Honestly, I was terrified. I thought my role was give them all the knowledge that I've got about something. Now I realize that's not my job at all. My job is to point them in the right direction, give them the tools that they need, and wow, they can do so much more than that textbook.
ELLIS: The benefits go beyond the world of information at students' fingertips.
Unidentified Girl #2: Before I was really shy. I never wanted to be called on in class. And now it's better because I can just do things with my device.
ELLIS: So you end up being the IT guy at home.
Unidentified Man: Yes.
ELLIS: Keep all this stuff working.
ELLIS: There have been concerns among parents, including the Hendrixsons , who now support the program.
Unidentified Woman: My concern was that there was going to be a lot of texting each other, texting friends.
Ms. HALEY HENDRIXSON (8th Grade): The teachers are very good about catching you when you're texting. They've got the eye for it now.
ELLIS: Still, some wonder if programs like this could create an electronic overload.
Man: There's always a place for pen and paper. You take the best of both things, the old and the new.
ELLIS: So you've become a believer about bring your own technology in the classroom.
Man: Oh, absolutely.
ELLIS: Are you glad dad's a believer?
Unidentified Boy #3: Yes.
ELLIS: The district says it has devices for students who don't have their own and measures in place to safeguard those brought to school. Not everyone is on board, but organizers say the program is going well. In fact, schools here have been contacted by educators in other districts, states and even countries, who want to see BYOT in action.
HOLT: Rehema Ellis in Atlanta for