What are the Policies and Procedures That Exist in My School Division Around the Use of Technology?
Prominent issues (ethical, social, legal, safety) related to educational technology in K-12 school divisions require clear structures and guidelines be developed and communicated with all stakeholders. Policy and procedure development resulting in the formal position of a given school division and accessible to all maximizes the opportunities afforded by technology while minimizing inherent risks. Sound policies and procedures related to education technology also require frequent updating to address emerging issues.
The quote above appears on my school division’s education technology website. The division identified in 2015 that with new and emerging issues it was likely that existing policies and procedures would need to be enhanced or modified and in some cases new policies and procedures would need to be developed. Currently there are eight administrative procedures that directly address technology which include:
- Computer Network and Internet
- Use of Board Owned Technology
- Password Construction and Protection
- Online Communication and Interaction/Social Media
- Information Security
- Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
- Use of Student Owned Technology Devices
The division has also developed a Responsible Use of Technology/Digital Citizenship Agreement for students. Within this document students need to agree to the responsible use conditions that fall under the headings of Respect and Protect Myself, Respect and Protect Others, Respect and Protect Intellectual Property, Personal Technology, Online Software, Application and Services. They must also agree to follow the expectations of the guidelines and conduct themselves as responsible digital citizens. It is expected that students in grades 4-12 sign the agreement annually. Parents also need to sign the agreement stating they have read it and support it.
What is the Policy/Guideline Development for Apps in My School Division?
The school division is required to ensure that all software applications on Division-owned devices are approved for use and are legally licensed. They have identified that “no software/apps/online services shall be purchased, installed, copied onto or used on Division-owned devices unless approval has been granted and the appropriate license(s) has been obtained”.
Before using a software/apps/online services, teachers should be referring to the approved list the division has complied. This list is available to all employees of the division and requires division credentials to access it. The list identifies hardware, software, web sites, and apps along with their status – approved, rejected or being processed, and any conditions that go along with it. Some conditions include a parental consent form specific to the app. A general list of baseline apps, services, and software is available for public viewing on the education technology website.
If a teacher would like to use an app not currently listed on the approved list for the division, they must fill in and submit a Request for Software/Apps/Online Services form. Once the request is received by the division it is funneled to the instructional coordinator for the area that the service/app or software was requested for. The request is reviewed based on curriculum alignment, whether or not an existing service/app or program is already available in the division, privacy implications and cost. Each submission is also reviewed by IT in terms of impact on the network, storage space on the device (iPads in particular), presence of in-app purchases and licensing. Privacy and security are primary concerns that are considered as well. This is evident in the questions that are asked on the form which include:
- Does this product require the student to login or have an account/profile?
- Does the student use their existing login or is a new one created?
- Does the teacher create the account or does the student?
- Does the teacher have the ability to reset the students’ passwords or only the student? Or both?
- How long does this account remain active? Does this product collect personal information?
- Is there an education related purpose for the collection of personal information?
- Is any of the personal information collected of benefit to the student?