“… technology uses will envoke new types of situations, and technologists will operate in areas lacking clear guidelines.” (Williamson & Redish, 2009, p. 123) Educational technology can be a leap into the unknown when working with children and there are many guidelines and safeguards that must be followed in regards to technology in schools. The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are two examples of legislation created for student safety. The tough thing about technology is that it is like a living thing always growing and changing and the schools must stay current in regards to safety guidelines. There are countless fun, interesting and productive digital tools available that may not fall under any established guidelines. In these instances schools look to the technology leaders and facilitators for clarification.
With most great things come disadvantages and most people recognize a few of these disadvantages immediately. Online safety at school, privacy laws and students’ understanding of copyright procedures are a few issues that are most discussed and understood but as I learned in an earlier course the “digital divide” or digital inequity is a huge problem in schools. Districts that cannot provide students with 21st Century skills are turning out graduates who will be greatly disadvantaged because, as Warlick (2007, p. 20) states, for the first time in history we, as educators, are preparing kids for a future that we cannot describe. Digital inequity is a terrible problem facing many small schools. "The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socioeconomic levels with regard to both their opportunities to access information and communication technologies..." ("Digital Divide", 2011, para. 1)
Schools must understand and abide by laws governing collection reporting and storing of student information. FERPA mandates that certain portions of educational records remind private and cannot be disseminated without permission. Other aspects of technology not covered by CIPA or FERPA are left to a school’s discretion, but adhering to internet safety and acceptable use policies are dependent on the school's decision to accept certain funding.
I have found in my capacity as District Technology Coordinator that I occasionally need help from our school attorney to clarify concerns. Most of my inquiries are about social media at school. I needed assistance when setting up the school Facebook and Twitter accounts and have also asked questions about teacher wikis and blogs.
The activities I have done in Standard VI tie directly to the five indicators. I began my year by teaching a unit on Internet safety and copyright laws to my students and by e-mailing the teachers the acceptable use policy (AUP) and requiring a signature showing that they had read the policy. (TF/TL VI.A.,D.) Indicator B states that technology resources should be available to empower and enable diverse learners success. My district provides software that can translate text into speech in several languages and we have digital tools available to assist special education students in completing assignments. We use various streaming media tools in our vocational programs to display diverse cultures to satisfy Indicator C. The last indicator discusses providing equitable access to technology for all students. All of our seniors currently have the privilege of checking laptops out of the library to keep all year and all of our ITV students are issued a laptop for use with their college courses. My district also has plans to purchase two Apple iPad carts for our junior high to use in core subject areas. My school has a low student to computer ratio and our students and teachers have access to three computer labs.
Digital Divide. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 19, 2011, from
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