Boulder Valley School District plans to keep its going, but add safeguards and an opt-out option, based on recommendations from a consultant.
Making sure all screen time in the classroom is purposeful and focused on learning also is a goal based on the recommendations.
“Screen time is a really big issue for parents,” said Boulder Valley Assistant Superintendent Sam Messier. “We want to give guidelines on how to be really transparent as a teacher and communicate to parents what the screen time is and what it‘s for.”
A district administrative team began tackling the technology issue this fall with the help of consultant iTeach, based at Georgia‘s Kennesaw State University.
The effort included a review of technology policies and procedures and gathering feedback through and teacher and student focus groups, along with giving a technology survey to randomly selected parents.
Parent concerns include risks of internet use, inappropriate content, screen time, student data privacy, appropriate supervision, digital citizenship and focus on research-based instructional strategies, according to the district.
The consultant found a universal desire, from parents, students and educators, for the district to lead with instruction when adding technology.
“It should be about instruction first, rather than the device,” Messier said.
For the one-to-web program, the district plans to give schools guidelines on allowing parents to request that Chromebooks stay at school or to opt out of allowing their child a device altogether.
Another change is requiring all students to complete a digital citizenship curriculum by December.
Along with digital citizenship for students, the district is adding more protection in August by rolling out the Go Guardian classroom management software that is being piloted now.
The new system allows teachers to check on what‘s happening on all the devices during the school day. The district also is looking into expanding its internet filtering to cover district devices used at home by K-8 students.
Many of the district‘s recent changes around technology have focused on middle schools.
Boulder Valley in November and already was blocking them in elementary schools. In the fall, the district blocked middle school access to gaming sites.
Other recommendations include doing a better job communicating to the community the district‘s strengths around security and data privacy.
Those include a district security audit of the network and practices and a separate Google configuration audit by Amplify IT. The Consortium for School Networking also awarded BVSD the Trusted Learning Environment Seal.
“If you compare us to like districts, we‘re doing a really good job,” Messier said, adding there‘s always room for improvement. “The way technology is moving and as fast as it‘s moving, there‘s always going to be room for improvement in this area.”
Superintendent Rob Anderson said he plans to bring a new cell phone policy and changes to the district‘s overall technology policy to the school board for approval this spring.
The cell phone policy requires devices to be turned off unless allowed by a teacher and prohibits using device cameras in locker rooms and bathrooms.
The policy changes include establishing an annual review of filter settings, offering accommodations to parents concerned about technology use and prohibiting hot spots to prevent students from bypassing district internet filters.
Anderson also is proposing a new position to manage digital content and help create transparency, common language and tighter practices. The school board would need to approve that position as part of the 2019-20 budget process.