Romoland School District believes that it is critical for students to be able to understand and use technology in their daily lives. Students need frequent and appropriate access to technology that allows them to learn, analyze, research, and create. There is a need for students to obtain digital literacy and technology skills to address the California State Standards and to prepare them for high school, college and careers. Romoland students utilize Google Chromebooks daily for in-class instruction at all grade levels.
Beyond this, the District believes there is extended value in allowing the devices to go home with students. It enables 24/7 learning without borders or boundaries, effectively extending the school day and encouraging students to develop a love of learning. Although some of the activities and topics that students pursue may not be directly linked to classroom activities, they can still be beneficial by developing students’ ability to locate information, evaluate it, synthesize it, and communicate with others. It also helps them become more comfortable with technology in general, easing their transition to Heritage High School which also sends devices home with students. Many of our families are unable to afford to have a computer in the home, and this inequity creates a severe learning disadvantage for those students compared to others.
Currently, Romoland School District allows students in Grades 6-8 to take their school-issued Google Chromebook home. Chromebooks are issued to students in 6th grade and remain with the student during their time in middle school. When students promote from 8th grade they have the option to purchase the Chromebook from the district for $10, at which time it becomes a personal device for use in high school or in the home.
While technology can be very powerful when used appropriately, it has dangers. Romoland School District is committed to educating students about how to safely live in a digital world and we want to share with you how we are doing so.
Digital Citizenship/Cyberbullying: All students are provided with education about digital citizenship and how to deal with cyberbullying should it occur. This education is reinforced throughout the school year, both in-class and at special presentations. We are continually strengthening and refining our digital education curriculum at all grade levels so that all students are receiving grade-level appropriate information on these topics.
Content Filtering: All Chromebooks have a filtering policy applied that is in effect both at school and at home. No web filter is perfect; while the majority of objectionable content is blocked, there will be things that slip through the cracks. The Internet is a very big place. As we become aware of inappropriate sites, or as students find loopholes, we act immediately to close those gaps. Our filter blocks sites that are categorized into the following categories: drugs, gambling, pornography, other adult content, social media, anonymous proxies, chat/messaging (except for Google Chat, which we can limit and monitor), hate, and social networking. We also only allow use of search engines on which we can force the safesearch feature, and on YouTube we force Safety Mode.
Student Expectations: All students are informed that they are expected to care for the device and are responsible for any damage caused by misuse or negligence. Students who take devices home are expected to bring them to school fully charged everyday. Devices should be inside backpacks when not in class or at home to prevent breakage from dropping it (which is by far the #1 cause of damage). Students are informed that improper use, such as trying to circumvent the content filter, accessing inappropriate websites or accessing pirated media, is a violation of the District’s Responsible Use Policy.
In time, schools sending an Internet-connected device home with students will become a normal practice, just as in the past students have brought textbooks back and forth. Right now it is a cutting edge practice, and while this is a tremendous learning opportunity for our students it can also create uncertainty in the home. We want our families to understand the important role of technology in education, and develop a partnership to work together to keep students safe. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with your student’s access to digital devices in the home, whether it be a Romoland Chromebook or personal devices.
Communicate: The most important thing is to communicate with your student about what they are doing online. Discuss responsible online behavior with them, establish rules for who it’s okay for them to talk to, the importance of maintaining privacy online, etc.
Set Limits: If you have concerns about what your student is doing online, set limits on where and when they may use the device. For example, you could require that they use the device in a public area instead of a bedroom, and sit so that the screen is visible to others. Set time limits on when the device can be used, and take it away after that time until it is time to take it to school.
Know their passwords: Students are told to keep their password private. However, as a parent/guardian you are an exception to this rule, and they know that. Always know their password so you can login on the device with their account to view their activity.
Check the Internet history: Set the expectation with your student that they may not delete their web history, and have consequences if they do. The steps to view Internet history differs based on the device. On a Chromebook, login with the student’s account, open the web browser and press Ctrl + H on the keyboard to view history.
We hope this information will help us build a partnership to support your student’s educational experience.