As we begin this course on Internet Tools for Teaching, it was helpful this week to review the Children’s Internet Protection Act and our own school district’s policy for Acceptable Use of the Internet. The Quakertown Community School District’s Acceptable Use Policy is very thorough and, as far as I understand CIPA laws, covers all the bases. Here is how QCSD policy aligns with the CIPA requirements for a school acceptable use policy:
CIPA requires a policy that address: QCSD policy:
|access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet||Prohibits use of the network to access obscene or pornographic material. If a student “accidentally” links to an inappropriate web site he/she should close the site, note the date and time of the incident, and report it to a teacher.|
|the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications||Board policy states that “Internet safety measures shall effectively address safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications.” At this time there is nothing more specifically related to these forms of direct electronic communications, because they are blocked from our students’ netbooks / laptops.|
|unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online||Prohibits:
|unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors||States that “student users shall not reveal personal addresses or telephone numbers to other users on the district network, or to other individuals, companies or organizations on the Internet.|
|measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them||States that “any district computer/server utilized by students and staff shall be equipped with Internet blocking/filtering software.”|
There is not a procedure delineated in this QCSD document for what rules a teacher needs to apply when using new technologies with students. Nor is it stated in this document a process providing for circumstances under which a teacher can bypass school filters.
From my own experience using Skype, blogs and e-pals with my high school German classes, our tech people have been very helpful in assisting me to learn how to use and teach my students how to use these tools with my German classes so we could communicate with native-speaker teenagers in Germany and Switzerland. They also helped me to craft documents for parent permission and student acceptable use specific to those types of projects.
Over the last several years, my district has gone from a very restrictive filter (”Bess”) when I taught in the middle schools, to a much more user-friendly approach to blocking and filtering through the server (so that instead of students bumping into “Bess”, they simply can’t access things like YouTube and e-mail). But at the same time they have allowed teacher access to pretty much everything, which makes it much easier for us to find and use internet resources with our classes. I rarely bump into things now that deny me access. Most recently Glogster (the regular version) and Blogger did not allow me access. But my tech people were quick to direct me to the Glogster.edu version and Word Press, so that I still have access to those kinds of tools, just different ones that our server allows. When we come up against something that doesn’t allow us access, all we need to do is e-mail a tech person and they can either direct us to a different resource (like happened in my case) or have the website reviewed and possibly opened up based on the decision of the reviewer.
My district’s policy very much promotes the use of new technologies in the classroom. Our administration is very supportive of cutting-edge technologies and encourages us to implement them and share with our colleagues what is working well so others can do the same. We have recently begun using Blackboard and Google Apps, and we have a 1:1 initiative whereby every student in the high school will have their own (district-owned and supported) laptop to use in the classroom.
Quakertown Community School District Board Policy http://www.psba.org/districts_policies/q/498/POLQUAC250.pdf
The Children’s Internet Protection Act: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act