The Board of Education approved the first reading of a policy that allows students to utilize technology in the classroom.
“The Board of Education recognizes technology is always changing as a result of increased accessibility to technology many students possess technology devices for their use during non-school hours,” the policy says. “These privately-owned devices may be beneficial to students during school hours for approved educational purposes.”
The policy, which goes hand-in-hand with the district’s new Bring Your Own Device initiative, goes on to say that students are now permitted to use technology devices such as a iPad or smart phone while in school as long as they follow the provisions.
To use a privately owned technology device, the student must have the approval of their parent or legal guardian and the school teaching staff member, the policy says. Use of devices may be permitted or prohibited at the teacher’s discretion.
Teachers are expected to provide students with a list of approved Internet sites that the student may access, it says.
“It’s somewhat tricky,” Board President Jack Martenak said, adding that teachers will closely monitor the use of technology devices to ensure that students are not abusing the privilege.
Once the student wireless network is set up, filters will also be provided prohibiting students from visiting non-educational sites, High School Principal James Handschuch said.
“We know this is going to occur,” Handschuch said of the wrongful use of the technology devices. The district will trust the students to use “common sense,” he said.
Technology Teacher Coordinator Jason England said the school district will be in control of applications downloaded and will periodically refresh and cleanup the school-owned devices.
The district’s goal is to implement the Bring Your Own Device initiative throughout the 2012-13 school year, when the benefits and challenges will also be assessed, Martenak said.
Currently, the district is using its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students for a pilot. Each of the students has been issued a loaner iPad, Handschuch said.
“This is their textbook,” Handschuch said, adding that the devices will be used as a “learning tool.”
“It brings more meaning to the device they own,” he said. “Students are savvy but they don’t know the educational side.”
The STEM classes have downloaded applications Keynote, Edmodo, Notes and are able to do interactive presentations as well as take pictures and video. The classes are also utilizing an Apple TV in which students can share their work from their iPads with their peers onto the TV, England said.
“It’s becoming a state of the art facility,” he said.
The district is purchasing Chromebooks that will eventually be able to be signed out by students and an iPad cart will also be used throughout the high school. The district’s goal is to have enough devices for all students, Handschuch said.
“We want to ensure everything runs smoothly,” England said.
Although the majority of the students own at least smart phones, in considering the use of the technology devices, teaching staff members must ensure that the approval does not provide an advantage or benefit to one student over another, Handschuch said.
“We’re definitely heading in the right direction,” he said. “It’s safe to say we were behind the times but we’re catching up.”
The district also revised two other policies: “Acceptable Use of Computer Networks/Computers and Resources” and “Use of Electronic Communication and Recording Devices.”
All three of the policies can be found in the Board of Education’s October agenda, which is attached to this story as a PDF. See pages 74 through 83.