School district powers up new digital device policy

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Students will be able to bring their digital devices with them when they return to their classrooms this year, with one caveat.

“This is not a free-for-all,” said Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Gruccio. “We are teaching with them; there is an educational component.”

 

Over the summer, the Board of Education approved a policy, referred to as “bring-your own-device,” that opens the door for student-owned devices to be used in the classroom for instructional and teacher-directed purposes.

Gruccio said that while students who have digital devices such as smart phones or tablets will be able to use them in place of district-owned devices during lessons, students without them will not suffer.

“There will be no advantages in learning” among the students who have their own devices, she said.

During their lesson planning process, teachers will be assessing how many students have their own devices and how many do not. The teachers will then reserve district resources to supplement devices for those without, or will use cooperative pairings so every student can participate, Gruccio said, noting the district has a three-year plan that calls for the purchase of more tablets as budgets allow.

The special education department already has a new set of tablet computers, which were purchased this year under its departmental budget. Gruccio said the devices allow those teachers to offer a variety of differentiated learning opportunities to students using applications suitable for students with specific disabilities.

The devices will be used for educational purposes only.

“For instance, a teacher may say, ‘Get out your devices and research wind turbines,’” Gruccio said. “This is an important piece to 21st century learning. It will be used to improve instruction and direct teaching.”

Non-instructional use will only be permitted at the discretion of the building principals, and devices will otherwise be turned off, Gruccio said. The students will only be able to access an approved list of websites and will only be permitted to access the Internet through the district’s password-protected wireless network.

The district assumes no risk of loss or responsibility for the items and will offer no technical support.

“It’s up to them to know how to properly navigate and use the device,” she said.

No electronic recordings of any kind will be permitted without prior permission of the teacher, she said.

“There are some cases were it may be allowed, like in a science class to record what happens in an experiment.”

The board also passed a digital curriculum for grades kindergarten through high school to educate students about cyber responsibility, safety and ethics as well as how to navigate and use the Internet for educational uses.

The district’s discipline policy remains in force, she said.

“We didn’t need to change that policy. If a student is viewing an inappropriate site, it will be handled the same way as if they had something inappropriate in school, like a Playboy magazine. It will be handled the same way it always has; our policy is the same.”

See the policies online at http://www.eht.k12.nj.us/Board_Of_Education/Board_Policy/Index.htm


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