Within the past few years, thanks to COVID-19 and distance learning, the amount of technology in schools across the country has increased a hundredfold. Many districts are now supporting 1:1 device initiatives, giving students daily access to the internet and information through Chromebooks, iPads, and other smart devices. To the relief of the world, education has mostly returned to the classroom after the pandemic mandated distance and hybrid learning.
Now, along with paper notebooks and colored pencils, classroom supply lists include technology as essential learning materials. With access to smart devices comes different responsibilities for teachers and students, new ways of learning, and new distractions. What’s your school’s current technology acceptable use policy?
As teachers continue to enhance instruction using 21st-century devices, the written policies for technology are often not clear or outdated. In many schools, the rules for daily technology use are frequently delegated to the discretion of each individual classroom teacher.
Teachers know their students best, but this open policy leads to confusion for both students and teachers who must navigate the variety of expectations from one class to another. It might be fine to use headphones during work time in period one, but in period two they better be out of sight. A student may forget which teacher encourages the use of social media as an inventive form of learning and expression, and which only allows access to the learning management system. It may seem to one teacher that the class right after homeroom often needs extra reminders to put their devices away.
Today’s technologies are fairly new, so most teachers don’t have the experience, training, or adequate support to help students overcome the addicting nature of apps that manipulatively track and collect data to entice and masterfully distract human behavior.
The U.S. Department of education articulates the need for a common language at all school levels around the expectations of effective technology use (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). Most schools have an acceptable use policy (AUP), a document that outlines those expectations. Often hidden in the back of student handbooks, the AUP lists the do’s and don’ts of technology as a contract to be followed by students and staff. It should not be assumed that students, parents, or even teachers read these terms and conditions, or even understand them fully.