CEDAR HILL -- There are some famous moments when athletes have misused Twitter, like when Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson once blamed God for dropping a pass in overtime.

At Cedar Hill, defensive line coach Aaron Nowell knows how dangerous Twitter can be.

"Recruiters will tell you, for either something that's been on Facebook, Twitter, any other social media site, I mean there are guys who are losing scholarships for what they're posting," Nowell said. "I would hate for that to happen to one of my kids."

Cedar Hill center Anthony Pullins will play at Stephen F. Austin next year. He knows Nowell is watching his Twitter account.

"Make sure you don't use profanity," Pullins said. "He looks at our tweets and everything, so he'll call you out on it. You get in trouble -- do pushups or whatever."

What coach Nowell doesn't do is try to prevent his players from using Twitter at all. Along the same lines, students in his forensic science class are allowed to use their smart phones.

It's part of a new program in the Cedar Hill independent school district: B-Y-O-D, or Bring Your Own Device.

"In life, in general, as we live, when you want to know something, what do you do? You pull out your device and you look it up," said Kyle Berger, the executive director of technology for CHISD. "Why aren't we harnessing that technology and teaching our kids how to do that properly in the classroom?"

Cedar Hill is on the cutting edge when it comes to using smart phones as a learning tool. According to a recent study, 88 percent of all schools across the country still prohibit cell phones in the classroom.

"Pretty much everybody now has the data plan and the ability to look stuff up," said Nowell, who's twitter handle is @Coach_Nowell. "I think it just goes hand-in-hand -- you're trying to make that connection. And that's the easiest way to get them to learn, is you make a connection to their world with my small world of forensic science, and get them together."

There's no guarantee kids aren't playing Angry Birds on their phones, but coach Nowell relies on the 80-20 rule -- 80 percent of kids do the right thing.

"I like school, I like learning," said Eric Barnica, who was a manager on the football team. "So if we're in a classroom, and we're supposed to be doing something on our phones, all I'm doing is what we're supposed to do on the phone."

Using smart phones and other devices, and learning how to use them the right way, has become just another part of the learning process at Cedar Hill.


Twitter @tedmadden

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