Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wireless Communication Device Policy.

A few weeks ago, I asked Superintendent Tucker to look into the issue of whether our board policy (Page 73) that disallows the use of Wireless Communication Devices during the school day should be looked at. A WCD could be anything from an internet enable cellphone to an IPAD or other tablet device to a small netbook. I made the request because it makes no sense for kids to have to power down when they enter our buildings. We've spent a lot of money enabling WIFI in the buildings so perhaps it is time to maximize that investment.

As with most policies, there are pros and cons. The biggest objection is that the WCD will be misused, taking inappropriate photographs, texting (or worse) with friends, spending too much time on Facebook and perhaps even reading board member blog posts.

My response is that we should punish the behavior if inappropriate, but not ban the tool. Within a few years, WCD will be ubiquitous, spanning all age groups and income levels. It is the nature of technology. Furthermore, the world that our kids inherit will be filled with this kind of technology - isn't it best to learn how to use it in a controlled environment.

Superintendent Tucker commissioned a task force to look at more permissive policies employed by other school districts around the country. Several look promising. The consensus is that Worthington's policy, assuming we change it at all, should look something like this.

I see great value to the use of WCD in educational settings but I also understand that there are risks. There is also an equity issue as our district cannot afford to provide devices to all students, but many students have them already. We will simply not require them to be turned off when they enter our buildings.  Over time, as the technology matures,  the equity issue will disappear.

As always, our entire board values constituent input and any new policy will go through the normal process of a first reading at a board meeting (probably in December) and a vote in January. In the meantime, please feel free to share any thoughts on this topic on the blog or by contacting me directly.