The past five years have brought about a rapid increase in the number of students carrying around powerful devices that can only be 'legally' used to access information 16.5 hours per day. By and large schools across the nation force students to power down largely out of fear. The popular narrative is that students will cheat, cyber bully, sext, text, and generally distract themselves from any 'real' learning. What if schools took an opposite approach and accentuated the positives of personal devices? Instant access to information to supplement learning activities (Don't we as adults 'Google' something the moment we want to go deeper on a subject?), the ability to collaborate with peers on projects, a way to instantly poll classes using free polling technology, an ability for students to check grades, calendars, and task lists, a way to replace dated texts with dynamic ebooks.
Would this take training (both for students, teachers, and parents)? Absolutely. However, if we are serious about making brick and mortar institutions relevant for learning in this connected age, we must get past the notions of what school used to be and quickly embrace what school can and should be in an era of interconnectedness.