A Journey Through Technology

Week 11: What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

on July 29, 2016

This week we are looking at the specific policies that schools and districts use concerning technology, and how I can help lead my district in creating these policies. To start, I looked at some steps to take when trying to develop technology policies. According to K-12 Blueprint, on their Policy and Leadership webpage (https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy), there are two questions to start with: Will the policy be followed in daily practice? Is it consistent with administrative regulations? (2016) Another issue that districts need to deal with is student internet access and keeping students safe. “While you want to encourage the use of technology, you also have a responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all students.” (Winske, 2014) A good technology policy should address these three issues, and possibly even more.

The Learning and Technology Policy Framework for Alberta (2013) is a great resource for developing a technology policy. Their policy has 5 main components: Student-Centered Learning; Research and Innovation; Professional Learning; Leadership; Access, Infrastructure, and Digital Learning Environments. I think that if districts focus on these five branches for a technology policy, they should cover everything they need to be successful. Of these five branches, the last policy, concerning Access, Infrastructure, and Digital Learning Environments, often called acceptable use policies (AUP), can be one of the trickier policies for districts to develop.

James Bosco (2013) discusses AUP, stating that they have “two dimensions” to them. The first dimension is for an AUP to “Protect students from harmful content on the Internet and regulate students use of the Internet so they do not harm other students or interfere with the school’s instructional program.” (Bosco, 2013) The second dimension is to “Provide students with good access to digital media to support engaged learning.” (Bosco, 2013) There are two approaches to keeping students protected while using the internet. “Some districts believe that the best way to eliminate inappropriate use of the Internet and mobile devices is to rely on extensive blocking of Internet sites and to restrict or substantially limit use of student owned mobile devices in the classroom.” (Bosco, 2013) This is what I have encountered most often. We want students to avoid going to sites that distract them, or could be dangerous, so we block any of those options so students don’t have a choice to go to them. The other option is becoming much more popular as more schools are adopting BYOD policies or providing students with devices to use. This plan teaches student “how to be responsible users, make informed choices, and be held accountable for their behavior.”(Bosco, 2013) Districts that take this approach still block the sites that are required by law, but focus on teaching students how to use the internet responsibly and how to be good digital citizens. I think this is the best way to approach protecting students online because they will have access to the whole internet at home, so why not teach them how to use it, instead of just keeping them sheltered for part of their time with technology.

My district recently adopted an educational technology plan in March of 2014. “The primary goal of technology in the school district is to have a positive impact on student
achievement.” (Educational Technology Plan, 2014) While looking through this plan, I noticed that the format is very different from the Alberta Learning and Technology Policy Framework. The plan has four sections: Goals, Evaluation Process, Needs Assessment, and Professional Development. There are also separate “Responsible Use Policies” available on the district website (http://www.matsuk12.us) that are not a part of the technology plan. For future revisions of the plan, I think that the Alberta Learning and Technology Policy Framework would be a good starting point because the five parts of that plan are nicely defined and divide the plan into discrete areas. To help lead my district in creating new technology policies, I would volunteer to be a member of the policy writing team and also volunteer to be a leader within my school.

References

Bosco, J. (2013, March) Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies to Enable Digital Learning: A Guide for School Districts. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.cosn.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Revised%20March%202013_final.pdf

Educational Technology Plan. (2014, March 19). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.matsuk12.us/Page/23779

Learning and Technology Policy Framework. (2013). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.education.alberta.ca/LTPF

Policy & Leadership. (2016). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy

Winske, C. (2014, February 17). Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.k-12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives

Advertisements

3 responses to “Week 11: What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

  1. edtech133 says:

    In your very first paragraph, you hit a key point that I see as such a problem in my school. “Will the plan be practiced on a daily basis?” I think this is where teacher involvement in creating vision and keeping them informed of the policies AND there reasons is so important. So much gets lost in the day-to-day, technology is so important for our kiddos! But without proper professional development and follow-through, it can also be a liability. Thank you for the blog!

    Like

  2. aletakmay says:

    Sarah,

    I agree that it is so important to follow the district policies daily. At certain times of the school year, it is easy to relax on following these standards. We need to be vigilant on following policy and review these as a staff and with our students across the school year.

    We do need to teach students to be responsible users of the Internet and follow acceptable use policy (AUP). Although it is not necessarily the easiest road to take, it is an important one. There will be students who continually test the system, and abuse it. Does this mean we should restrict everyone’s access? Though it may be difficult at times to locate the specific system abusers, we need to continually find ways to supervise students, and have a step plan for consequences and how we will solve the issue(s). One way is to have a point person in the school who can be talked to by students, anonymously, about issues such as cyberbullying and hacking around the schools safety net system.

    Thank you for such a great post!

    Aleta

    Like

  3. The K-12 Blueprint was so helpful to my knowledge construction this week too. I really appreciated how you broke the Learning and Technology Policy Framework for Alberta into it’s 5 parts–you’re right any policy that covers these 5 parts would have a sufficient policy in place. I also like how you suggested ways the district can improve their technology plan. Do you think there is a difference between a plan and a policy? You will be an awesome resource for your district in assisting to create a comprehensive policy on emerging technologies!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: