The district’s Computer Use in Instruction policy, revised in April 2016 encourages teachers and students to take advantage of expanded access to digital learning tools, including a nearly endless collection of web-based resources! This expanded access is different from prior years, when an abundance of web resources were blocked and inaccessible on our school networks. It should be noted that many of the sites blocked on our networks had significant value to our learners, and were accessible—and frequently used by our students—via Smartphones, home computers, the public library, Comcast Cable, and more. In short, they could get more information outside of our schools than within them.
Of course the internet can be used as a great resource for learning and inquiry, but it can also be used to waste time or engage in irresponsible activities. It is our collective responsibility–parents, teachers, community members, administrators– to empower students to make responsible choices and to hold them accountable when their choices are irresponsible. Inevitably, some students will test the limits of responsible use and may make poor decisions; these will be addressed in our schools as teachable moments. Irresponsible use of network and internet resources takes place in communities across the country, regardless of access in school. By blocking access in school we provide a false sense of security, a practice that does little to develop the critical thinking and digital literacy skills demanded of 21st century citizens. This article from Education Week nearly five years ago provides a poignant perspective and is a worthy read. It is aligned with Brewster Schools’ strategic coherence goals and advocates for, “a new RUP policy/philosophy that treats the student as a person responsible for ethical and healthy use of the Internet and mobile devices.”