TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

August 13, 2012

Corbin welcomes 21st century technology into the classroom

Students “driving force” on high-tech superhighway


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff writer

These days, students at Corbin High School are looking forward to a new kind of license.

It’s not a driver’s license, but by possessing a yellow card, the license gives them the key to unlimited access to information and technology.

And like a driver’s license, it’s a privilege to be used responsibly.

It’s part of the Corbin Independent Schools’ “Bring Your Own Device,” or “BYOD” policy, that was approved in April. The policy aids students and staff in creating a learning environment suited for the 21st century, where they can access the district’s wireless network with a student or staff member’s personal device. Those devices include laptop computers, smart phones, iPods, Kindles/e-readers, tablets, and netbooks. With the teacher’s approval, students can use their own devices to get Internet access and work with other students.

“It’s called ‘shared knowledge.’ The students will feel comfortable showing what they’ve researched. It compliments the teacher and it’s a supplementary learning tool,” said Corbin High’s Principal, John Derek Faulconer.

With the new school year starting last Monday, the policy’s not yet being used in class. So the Corbin school district’s taking the necessary precautions to make sure the policy works out.

Faculty and staff prepared for the new policy almost two weeks ago during a two-day session at Corbin High School. Those professional development days featured seminars on the new technology, along with demonstrations and displays of high-tech teaching products and services.

Last week the key ingredient in giving students their keys to drive the technology — the “yellow cards” — were coming into the district’s schools.

“The yellow card has emergency contact information, along with a section where the student and parents understand the school district’s acceptable use policies, one of which is the school’s technology policy. If they read and understand the policy, they check off ‘Yes.’ The student and parents sign the card and return it to the main office where it’s kept on file. Once that’s on file, the yellow card is their ticket to get on one of our school computers,” said Faulconer.

He added about three-fourths of the students at Corbin High School have turned the cards back in. When their information is filed, those students get what Faulconer called a “digital driver’s license procedure,” which differs at each school in the district, according to the student’s age.

“At the high school level, it’s the student having knowledge what to post or access, to be responsible and how to protect themselves in a technology-driven area. We want them to be aware of their actions. It’s digital safety. You want to make sure what they’re doing is in their best interest,” he added.

Are students ready to take the digital drive? You better believe it.

“It will be easier for me, because I use technology at home, and there’s a lot of different Apps (applications) to add for learning. And it’s more enjoyable to use than pencil and paper,” said a male Corbin High School student who now brings his iPhone to class, and plans to use a tablet later.

Nearby in the school’s digital library, a female student was using her Android device, accessing a dictionary.

“I can access this much quicker than looking it up in a conventional dictionary. I can look up a word, it’s meaning and other information about that word. I can also download a book on our phones, and use my device’s calculator as well.”

Donations of previously used digital devices for students without their own are being accepted at the district’s board office on Roy Kidd Avenue. Once the pieces come together and the students get their “digital license,” Corbin High School’s ride on the high-tech superhighway should be a smooth and swift trip.

“The kids really are the driving force behind it,” said Faulconer.