A brave new world for Londonderry school district tech policy
LONDONDERRY — With most students’ phones essentially acting as miniature computers nowadays, staff at Londonderry High School are no longer discouraging smartphone use.
In fact, students are encouraged to bring their own device to class.
During Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, district Curriculum Coordinator Andrew Corey introduced a revised policy on the use of digital technology in the classroom. A second reading and final vote on the policy will take place at an upcoming board meeting.
Corey said the program has been in the works for the past several years.
Over the past two years, Londonderry school officials have worked to increase the district’s bandwidth, further integrate technology into the curriculum, and set the foundation for Londonderry to create a “bring your own device” environment.
Many of those changes are in full effect this fall, Corey said, with added Wi-Fi access points and increased technology noticeable at both the middle and high schools.
“Teachers are now able to utilize their personal devices through both the district network and a newly developed guest network,” he said.
Improvements to network security mean anyone accessing either network will be subject to a district-wide filtering system.
The IT department is monitoring online traffic flow as they work to complete the installation of a new server that will allow remote access to all staff files.
Corey said the ultimate goal at this point is for students returning from winter break this January will be able to access the guest network while in school and also remotely access their files.
The IT department also plans to increase Wi-Fi access at the district’s elementary schools starting next semester.
While there are no plans at this time to encourage Londonderry’s younger children to bring devices to school, a recent iPad program for kindergarten and first-grade students has shown some promise, Corey said.
The district has had a technology policy on the books for quite a few years now and the segment on acceptable uses is far from new, school officials said. But local educators realize there is much untapped potential.
“Right now, the vast majority of our middle and high school students know how to meet up online,” Corey said. “They’re already using Facetime and Skype, and this allows for students to meet up for group projects without their parents having to worry about driving them somewhere or picking them up.”
School Board members expressed excitement over what’s to come.
“I think this is a very thoughtful approach, not just for our staff but for these young adults,” board member Leitha Reilly said. “Because these kids are speaking a different language than what we were brought up with.”
Fellow board member Nancy Hendricks agreed.
“It’s a different world,” she said.
Those who wish to view the proposed updates to the district’s digital technology and electronic media policy may do so online at www.londonderry.org.
The Londonderry School Board will meet again Oct. 8.