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Policy changes coming for students, teachers

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

A new technology policy could alter the digital landscape of classrooms in Lincoln County.
During a June 25 policy committee meeting, the Lincoln County Board of Education voted to approve revisions to Policy 3220, Technology in the Education Program, and added a “Bring Your Own Technology Agreement” as a new regulation to accompany the policy. The revised policy and accompanying regulation will go into effect in the fall.
According to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Elaine Boysworth, prior to the implementation of any BYOT initiative, policies and guidelines were needed to govern the use of student-owned devices for instruction purposes on school campuses. Through the initiative, students who are unable to bring in outside technology will be able to access and utilize school equipment to prevent students from being excluded from instruction due to lack of access to technology.
In the Bring Your Own Technology Agreement, “technology” is defined as a “privately owned wireless and/or portable electronic hand held equipment that includes, but is not limited to, existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies, portable Internet devices, hand held entertainment systems or portable information technology systems that can be used for word processing, wireless internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording and information transmitting/receiving/storing, etc.”
By signing the agreement, students and parents must agree that the student takes full responsibility for his or her technology device, as the school is not responsible for student-owned technology. This would include replacement, repair or modification costs as well as troubleshooting for the device.
As far as guidelines for utilizing technology devices at school, students are allowed to access only files on a computer or internet sites that are relevant to the classroom curriculum, and that students will not attempt to bypass the school’s applied network filters.
Other highlights from the agreement include prohibiting students from using their device to record, transmit or post photos or video of a person or persons on campus. In addition, any images or video recorded at school are not allowed to be transmitted or posted at any time without the express permission of a teacher.
School employees have also received guidelines for their social media use, to be implemented this fall. Board members voted to approve Policy 7335, known as “Employee Use of Social Media.” According to Boysworth, the policy was recommended by the North Carolina School Boards Association and would govern the use of social media by school employees. In addition, a School Based Social Media Registry would serve as a regulation for Policy 7335. Through the registry, teachers would list the social media tools they are interested in implementing in their instruction as well as a brief description of the social media tools’ intended use. Teachers would also be required to indicate whether the site would be open to the school community, limited to a particular class, grade or group within the school or open to a larger community.
In the policy, social media is defined to include a variety of tools, such as “personal websites, blogs, wikis, social network sites, online forums, virtual worlds, video-sharing websites and others.”
Boysworth said that while these media platforms can offer educational opportunities, they can also be abused, and employees must use professional judgment when using social media for either personal or professional use.
As school employees, faculty, staff and administrators will be held responsible for the content on their social media sites, including content added by the employee, the employee’s friends, or members of the public who can access the employee’s site and for web links on the employee’s sites. Employees will also be required to use available security setting to restrict students from viewing their personal information on social media websites and to prevent students from accessing materials that are not age appropriate. That being said, employees are only allowed to accept current students as “friends” or “followers” on social media sites if the employee and student have a family relations or other type of appropriate relationship which originated outside of the school setting.
For more information regarding these new technology and social media policies for Lincoln County Schools, visit www.lincoln.k12.nc.us.

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