Our school has a Computer Acceptable Use Policy for middle school and high school students. In a conversation with our Technology coordinator, I learned that the philosophy behind our policy is first tied to our Standards of Conduct. When students enter our school they and their parents are agreeing to abide by the Standards of Conduct. Secondly, our administration wants to keep policies simple and short whenever possible.
This year the high school introduced one-to-one for the seniors and the elementary school began a push to integrate technology into the classroom. Our school has 3 laptop computer carts with MacBooks, 30 netbooks(used in the elementary classrooms), 7 iPads, 2 computer labs and 18 computers in the library. All of the teaching staff have a laptop issued to them. They have announced that next year the one-t0-one program will be expanded to juniors and seniors. We are a technology rich school. In the elementary classrooms, 4 of the grades have mounted projectors and 1st grade has a projector that is not mounted. There are several classes in the middle school and high school with mounted projectors and other projectors available to check out from the library. Even with all the technology available and that is being used, I was unaware of the Computer Acceptable Use Policy. I have to wonder if others are as unaware as I was, or was it just me. In a conversation with our elementary principal and elementary technology facilitator, Grace, we decided that writing an acceptable use policy, along with meeting the requirements of the Coetail course, would benefit school.
We began by looking at the Responsible Use Agreement from YIS. At that point, we thought we had a lot of work to rework it using the student objectives for our school. However, that was when I had a conversation with our technology coordinator who showed me the policies we do have in place and explained the philosophy behind them. When Grace, Ruth and I met again, we had more discussions on what needed to be done and how we might go about it. We realized that one big component that was still missing was a Computer Acceptable Use Policy for Students Under the Age of 13.
Last year, it was decided that the elementary department would integrate technology into the classrooms and no longer provide a “computer” class. Last spring we began by writing a vision statement.
We also created a document clarifying the classroom teacher’s role and the technology facilitator’s role. This year each grade is expected to integrate technology into 3 units. There has been a tremendous learning curve for all involved, but it is exciting to see all that is happening with technology in the classroom. Unfortunately, when reading the Computer Acceptable Use Policy from the middle school and high school handbooks, there seemed to be parts missing that needed to be addressed for elementary students before creating a link to the elementary handbook.
At the beginning of the year, I had written a letter to parents letting them know that we would be creating a class blog. This letter also had a part to sign and return. Other teachers began blogging several weeks later, so when I passed on the letter for them to send to parents I did some editing. Although the secondary parents and students are not asked to sign any forms, I felt that since we are dealing with students under 13 and beginning many new things it would be best to send a letter home to be read, signed and returned. So one part of our final project is an amended letter that will be sent to parents explaining some of the policies for our elementary students. (It is the 3rd page of the google doc for our final project.)
Grace began working on the Computer Acceptable Use Policy for Students Under the Age of 13. We felt it should begin with our vision for technology integration in the elementary school. We then followed guidelines from COPPA and our school’s secondary Computer Acceptable Use Policy. We also tried to use elementary student friendly language. Somethings were more explicitly stated and some we did not include. We included carrying computing devices, the students have been taught to carry one at a time, but earlier this year a teacher asked a student to carry 4 or 5 and the student dropped them on his toe. We also included guidelines for images, avatars and including citing original sources. Since we want to protect the identity of of the students, especially those under the age of 13 we included some “Do not” statement.
The last page of our project includes ideas that we have for some parent workshops to help parents understand the policies and guidelines that we want our elementary students to follow. These will be set up as 30 – 45 minute sessions in the morning and at the end of the school day. By having a short session that will not overwhelm parents, when they are bringing or picking up their child we hope to be able to get the information out to everyone. When we get approval from the administration to add this to the elementary handbook, we will also spend some time sharing it with the other elementary teachers.
The final project can be accessed at Final project for Course 2.