As technologies merge, school bans on iPods enter the gray zone

Florida county that banned iPods reconsiders. Is an iPod a music player or a teaching device? Is an iPhone a cellphone or a video player? Flat out bans on devices no longer make sense.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The ubiquitous iPod might be making a comeback after being banned last year on public school campuses in Broward County, FL, reports the Miami Herald.

On the agenda of the Broward School Board this week is whether middle-school students should be allowed to bring iPods, cellphones and laptops to school as long as they are kept out of sight.

"We have to adjust our policies to deal with emerging technology. If there's going to be an iPod phone, it makes sense to treat it as a cellphone," said Board member Robin Bartleman.

Last year, the school board voted to allow personal technology if teachers directed students to use them at school for educational purposes.

"As we move more and more into technology, we're certainly looking at the iPod as an instructional delivery tool, so that adds a little more complexity to just simply saying we're going to ban iPods," said Interim Superintendent Jim Notter.

The school board's main concern is whether the devices interfere with learning during the school day. The school board's current code includes banning items "that are not conducive to a safe and orderly learning environment." iPod's are not explicitly named directly in the code.

"I don't want a kid sitting in class listening to an iPod instead of a teacher. If a kid is in the cafeteria listening to their iPod, what's the big deal?" commented Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft.

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