This week I explore the fourth ISTE Teacher Standard: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University and I examine how I can implement the following question into my own practice: “How can teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices?”
My school recently revisited our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) after not having revised it in over two years. We found several discrepancies and have noted that several parents, while they signed the document, still had an array of questions about the one-to-one laptop program and what the laptops should (and shouldn’t) be used for both on and off campus. With this in mind, the school’s Tech Task Force debated the idea of requiring students and parents to attend an orientation in addition to just signing the AUP. I reviewed the policies and procedures of several other schools in an effort to find what works best for the majority. It seems, there is no majority. All schools approach this issue differently, with varying levels of success. What works for one school, doesn’t work for the next.
As I was reviewing the variety of different models, I thought to myself, “This seems like an AUP continuum.” I had to pause for a moment and refresh my memory on the definition of the word continuum:
Continuum could not be more perfect in this situation… There are ever-so slight differences in each model, but the extremes on either end of the spectrum are so very different. This leaves me asking, where should my school fall on the AUP continuum?
From there, I was able to formulate this week’s triggering question based on what I think will work best for my students, parents and teachers:
Why it is important to have a student and parent one-to-one laptop program orientation on top of the distribution and signing of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)?
In order to answer this question, I need to examine why and how it works for other schools that have already implemented this model.
Why Implement a Parent and Student Orientation?
Karen Larson, an Academic Technology Specialist wrote that her district requires that “both students and parents sign a Laptop Agreement that acknowledges the specifics of the equipment they purchased. Students may not take receipt of the laptop until both parent and student sign this document” (Larson, 2013). Larson went on to explain why they host a beginning-of-the-year orientation for both parents and students: “Having parents and their children at the same presentation accomplishes a number of our goals. Everyone hears the same information, a broad number of questions can be answered, parents learn how they can best support school policies, and we better understand how we can support parents. Parents also develop confidence in the school’s educational technology program. A win-win for all” (Larson, 2013).
The orientation not only gives parents the knowledge and skills to be part of the program, it also allows them to ask questions and feel a sense of investment in the decisions for their child’s education: “Many school administrators simply fail to communicate to their constituents why they’ve purchased [devices]. As a result, many initiatives face resistance from teachers, parents — and even students – who don’t understand why these devices are being introduced into their classrooms. Letting the purchase speak for itself isn’t enough – districts need to explain why they’ve invested in these devices” (Daccord, 2012). The parents leave the orientation equipped with a deep understanding of the program, the tools to feel like they truly understand the purpose and perimeters of the devices and the connections to ask questions and continue conversations.
My biggest takeaway from all the research is that a parent and student orientation creates opportunities for important conversations. Conversations between teachers and students, teachers and parents, administration and parents, and most importantly, parents and their children. Based on conversations in my own school, parents are not sure how to talk to their kids about these devices. What is the parent’s role? Can they take the device away if it’s used in an inappropriate way? How exactly is the device being used, period? These should not be questions for parents and it is our job to give parents the confidence to ask them.
One great ice breaker to open these discussions is by using Family Media Agreements. These documents provide discussion starters and allow parents and children to establish their own family agreements and expectations. The first document, from Common Sense Media, is a list of agreements (checkboxes) that should be discussed, point by point, within a family. This document can be used as part of a school-led orientation, or simply within a family:
The second document is from United World College of South East Asia and is meant to be a discussion-starter, where parents and children are given prompts and what the use of technology looks like for their family. The school tries to be very purposeful and transparent when implementing technology and this document is one essential part of that rollout: “We take care to help families establish a positive environment for digital media and laptop use in the home. We begin the process before the tool is even in the hands of the family by requiring parents and students to attend a “Growing up Digital” session where we scaffold a discussion between the parents and student around our Family Media Agreement. The understanding is that this document will be living and evolving as needed starting with a few agreements based on “pressure points” like time limits, where the laptop will be used, and expectations around completing homework. It’s important to note that this is a family agreement. There are considerations for all members of the family because modeling attentive behavior is really important” (Plaman, 2013):
The Orientation is Done, Now What?
The orientation is an essential part of a rollout, but what happens after that? It is easy to find information about orientations, but the resources stop there. Unless the program has failed (Los Angeles Unified, cough, cough), there is very little information about the specific steps to take when rolling out devices each year. Is this mean that students are given free-range as soon as the orientation is complete or do they just not write about it? The one person that provided me with great, detailed information about how to “phase-in” a successful program is Jac de Haan, the educational technology expert behind Technology with Intent. de Haan shares his week-by-week phase-in plan through Edutopia, writing, “Scaffolding student success with [devices] went a long way toward building our positive learning community.” (de Haan, 2012). I hope to share this plan with my school’s Tech Task Force and in an effort to make it accessible, I translated de Haan’s outline into a plan that could (fingers crossed) work for my school:
This plan seems so logical and well-organized, it makes me wonder why more schools are not slowly phasing in devices? Or, are they? I would love to know what your school’s rollout looks like. Have you tried this model (or something similar) without success? Do you have a very different plan that works well? Please share! I invite you to share your experiences, successes and challenges in the comment section below.
Daccord, T. (2012, September 27). 5 critical mistakes schools make with iPads (and how to correct them) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/5-critical-mistakes-schools-ipads-and-correct-them/
de Haan, J. (2012, August 15). How to roll out a 1:1 iPad program [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/one-to-one-program-rollout-jac-de-haan
Hertz, M. B. (2015, February 13). Social media at school: teaching safety on the virtual playground [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-school-teaching-safety-virtual-playground
Larson, K. (2013, August 27). Planning a successful student laptop roll-out [Blog post]. Retrieved from Communicate .. Create .. EdTech website: http://www.ccedtech.com/2013/08/planning-successful-student-laptop-roll.html#.VVZS4yFVikp
Plaman, J. (2013, June 18). This is how we roll (out) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://eastech.blogspot.com/2013/06/this-is-how-we-roll-out.html