By Christine Witcher, Middle School Science Department Chair
Forest Ridge has been a pioneer in integrating technology into the curriculum since we first became a 1:1 laptop school, over 20 years ago. We believe that technology can be a tool for equity, creativity and deeper learning, but only when it is used ethically and wisely. Research and experience tell us that our students need both instruction and support as they develop the cognitive ability and knowledge to set their boundaries around technology use.
Over the years, the Forest Ridge Student Technology Policy has grown longer as we try to address all ways that technology appears in the lives of our students. Last year, the middle school technology policy had reached over 2,000 words long! We've come to realize that an ever-increasing list of rules isn't the best way to support our students in using technology wisely and so we looked to the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria for inspiration.
This year, we've launched the Forest Ridge Ethical Use Policy, which outlines just two expectations for student technology use:
1. Show respect, acceptance and concern for yourself and others, in-person and online.
2. Take personal responsibility for developing a relationship with technology that supports a safe, balanced and healthy life.
Our policy goes on to detail what this might look like across the four main areas of student technology use:
1. School Technology
2. Personal Devices
3. Non-Educational Apps
4. Social Apps
During the first few months of school, students read and discussed the policy, and designed grade-level norms for how they will live up to these expectations. But the Ethical Use Policy doesn’t only apply to students. We also name that:
all members of the school community are expected to be fully present during learning and community times,
all members of the school community should expect to be asked about their technology use on campus, and
middle school students are expected to always use technology under the supervision of an adult.
We're already seeing our students become more present, more social, and more relaxed on campus. Coupled with a comprehensive 5-12 grade digital citizenship curriculum, we're helping to prepare our girls to be ethical and responsible global leaders.
- Forest Ridge Blog