Beyond Terms & Conditions

In a few days, hundreds of freshman will arrive at high school.  Gone are the days of their middle school teachers sharing one laptop cart and orchestrating a week’s use.  These students will be issued individual laptops, as many one-to-one programs have done for several years.

As the high school’s Instructional Technology Facilitator (aka “integration coach”), I am responsible for providing a parent orientation before they sign paperwork agreeing to terms and conditions…we shouldn’t be satisfied with just telling them about liability, fees, handling and care.

Does anyone really read the Terms & Conditions of anything before they click Submit?

In a few days, hundreds of freshman will arrive at high school.  Gone are the days of their middle school teachers sharing one laptop cart and orchestrating a week’s use.  These students will be issued individual laptops, as many one-to-one programs have done for several years.

As the high school’s Instructional Technology Facilitator (aka “integration coach”), I am responsible for providing a parent orientation before they sign paperwork agreeing to terms and conditions.

Does anyone really read the Terms & Conditions of anything before they click Submit?

Parents will sign the form and probably never read the handbook, so we’ll hit the highlights in the handbook, show the video created by our district office and send them on their way. I was 90% finished with an infographic to do just that.  Now I’m going to ditch it because I read a statistic cited on this document related to Common Core State Standards that hit home.  

“People are more than twice as likely to have learned about the Common Core from traditional or social media reports (57%) as they are to learn about them from teachers or school communication (26%).” -Common Core survey one-sheet from CTQ

The “people” to whom I am presenting information about technology and their children most certainly should learn about it from us.  It occurred to me, after reading that stat, that we shouldn’t be satisfied with just telling them about liability, fees, handling and care.  We also should be using social media to engage them, but that’s a different story.

Part of my job should include, but not be limited to, informing the community about why we have laptops for our students.

Certain restrictions may apply. 

Beyond that, we should be engaging them in a dialogue about what they, as parents, want to learn.  Maybe then, there would be an intrinsic incentive to keeping the laptop protected and free from damage.  A purpose beyond the basic terms and conditions by which we are asking them to abide.  So I set out to find a short video clip to prove my points. . Not just a lecture from a school employee, but examples of the technology in action. Perhaps students singing the praises of having their own laptop to bring to class. Reasons from real people:

What
can you expect to produce with your loaned laptop?


How
will daily access to your laptop change the way you learn and collaborate?


Who, besides you,
could benefit from your laptop when you take it home every day?


I spent nearly an hour clicking to no avail.  I actually stumbled upon several articles that assert how ineffective it is to have laptops in the classroom.

Several videos were created by college students. The correlation of digital note-taking to GPA is compelling. Oh, the irony of creating a digital product that report the ineffectiveness of technology in the lecture hall.  The videos were thought-provoking and I was starting to question the very initiative I have to present to parents of students who wouldn’t have learned impulse control yet.

Then I realized, my search was probably at fault. I had to be looking in the wrong places. Like all good searches, keywords matter. I searched for my school.  Result: several pages of football footage.  I entered “class project” as a Boolian keyword.  Result: Irrelevant. Some were down right frightening.  I’m running out of time. Do I chuck the idea and just go through the aforementioned rote motions?  Do I attempt to create my own demonstrative product in the next 72 hours?

I’m certain I need to hook my audience with relevance before showing the informative 13-minute video from the district.  I want to include examples of what students have done beyond basic presentation software that they’ve used since elementary school.  I’ve solicited a request for digital work product from my new colleagues.

Going forward:  I will archive examples from students and teachers for next year.

We have Open House this weekend and I will interview students about positive aspects of  technology at school and being able to bring it home.

Going forward: Ask parents, teachers and community members who are involved in digital productions and creations to go “on the record”.

My presentation this week may not be all I hope for, but I am determined to open this channel of digital communication and see what comes through. My work as a technology leader has just begun…


images from Flickr under Creative Commons
The audience is waiting by Rikard Fröberg licensed by CC Attribution 2.0 Generic. No changes were made.
I accept the licensing terms by Ivan Walsh licensed by CC Attribution 2.0 Generic. No changes were made.
Technology Use by Denise Krebs licensed by CC Attribution 2.0 Generic. No changes were made.