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Schools must cautiously use new devices

Advanced technology is playing an important role in the classroom now that it has proven its usefulness in daily life.

Because of technology’s expanding practicality, it may seem like a great move to spend $1 billion to give every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) a $700-dollar iPad — but reality paints the situation in a different light.

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles students figured out ways to circumvent web-browsing restrictions, and many ignored rules prohibiting the expensive devices from being taken home, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As a result, the LAUSD has now called for the return of every iPad and is trying to determine if the devices should be used in future classroom instruction at all. So far, a third of the pricey iPads remain unaccounted for despite the recall.

A significant portion of the teachers in the school district probably foresaw this outcome to some extent. Students have been using and abusing classroom equipment since they were given wax tablets: Textbook margins become sketchpads, and chalkboards are blank slates for profane phrases.

It should be assumed that students will disregard rules and use equipment in undesirable ways. To believe otherwise is to be willfully foolish.

The classroom is simply not the place to put cutting-edge technology into students’ hands. Teachers should not have to spend class time and school resources ensuring that new technology is used for academic purposes and not mistreated, especially when older tried and true methods are already known to be effective.

However, if putting expensive technology in the hands of the youth is a must, e-readers instead of iPads with textbooks already pre-loaded might be a more effective option.

If this alternative is pursued, it may lighten students’ backpacks and could lead to deals with publishing companies, since digital-format books have much higher profit margins. Students will also be less likely to browse the Internet on unauthorized sites.

If educators ensure that technology can only be used for academic purposes, such as by providing technology with limited functions, they may ensure that students use technology in the classroom as it is intended to be used.

Educational technology should be tested before implementation, and educators should be comfortable before its admission into the classroom.