Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s Just Citizenship! (Digital Citizenship)

What does it mean to be a civically engaged, responsible citizen? How does that extend to the digital world? In BVSD, we have focused on Digital Citizenship (DigCit) as an important part of our students becoming Future Ready. This year we are working with Instructional Services and Equity to embed key parts of DigCit into our curriculum.

While students need some explicit instruction in digital citizenship, the bigger lessons are often learned through modeling. Have you ever found yourself playing Candy Crush, peeking at a text message in a meeting, or posting something on Facebook that you wish you had thought twice about? Our students will be facing the same challenges in their digital lives. Digital citizenship instruction begins as young as kindergarten and extends through a student’s entire school career.

Beyond a list of do’s and don’ts, we strive to empower students to become leaders through programs such as #UseTech4Good. “Students need to be empowered. It doesn't need to be negatively driven; it's better if it's positively driven...the more we empower students the more it drives towards the goal,” shared a District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) member at our last meeting.  One example of using tech for good comes out of David Kaufman’s 4th-grade class at Fireside, who spent time learning about Puerto Rico and the effects of Hurricane Maria. They wanted to help and decided to harness the power of social media through setting up a GoFundMe page to raise over $4,000 for solar generators. These students are perfect examples of global citizens, using tech to help others around the world! To learn more about this project, see the article in the Daily Camera.

The Fireside project is just one of many examples that highlight how students across BVSD are using technology to engage in global citizenship, but what specific skills should your student(s) be learning and when? Check out the BVSD Digital Citizenship Scope & Sequence for guidelines on what each grade band should be working on, with links to resources and lesson plans. For parents, we have gathered resource bundles for P.E.P. (Parent Engagement Program) Talks, designed to bring timely conversations about relevant technology topics to your school. Effective digital citizenship instruction requires a whole community approach!

Some of my team's primary roles are to ensure technology at BVSD is secured through best practices and to work with parents and school communities to help students learn what good citizenship is in the digital world which may be equal or even more important. Adding your voice on this topic at home and in the community is crucial to the success of these programs.

Do you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions? Please chime in below.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to School Updates from IT for 2018-2019

Today marks the first day of the 2018-2019 school year! I hope that you have all had an enjoyable and refreshing summer.  For our team, we've spent much of the summer working to continue to improve our technology integration in BVSD. Here are a few of the projects we have been focusing on:

Student Data Privacy Course 
In addition to updating our Student Data Privacy website, all staff members who work with student information are now required to take a Data Privacy course. For more information, please see the BVSD Ed Tech blog post about this topic.

Digital Citizenship 
To prepare our students for the world they live in, we focus on teaching digital citizenship from kindergarten to 12th grade. This summer, we have reorganized and enhanced our digital citizenship resources. Among the new resources is a scope & sequence, which allows teachers at any grade level to quickly identify concepts and lessons to ensure each student is supported in an age-appropriate manner. The inclusion of digital citizenship lessons in our curriculum is also in the superintendent's 100-day plan.

Parent Engagement

My team is continually working on developing resources and avenues for parents to have conversations about technology. We opened up the District Technology Advisory Committee for another round of applications, and had nearly 200 people apply! In order to receive more input from the community, we are developing a comprehensive survey about technology to send to parents, which will be reviewed by the Board of Education and sent out this fall. Additionally, we are putting together “bundles” for schools to host P.E.P. (Parent Engagement Program) Talks - timely conversations about relevant technology topics. We look forward to continuing an open dialogue about the successes and challenges of using technology, both in the classroom and at home.

Updated Technology Policies
In December of 2017, the Board of Education approved the Student Data Privacy Policy, paving the way to update our student & staff technology policies as well. The staff policy revisions, passed on August 14th, reflect the rapidly changing nature of technology and ensure the responsible use of technology throughout the district. Work will continue on an updated student policy once information from the parent survey is available later this year.

We have now deployed a new phone system in every school & building! These phones have enhanced, modernized features, such as sending voicemails to email, to help streamline communication. Employees, be on the lookout for ideas about how to use these new features in the weekly IT Tips & Tricks emails.

Innovate@BVSD 2018
On July 30-31st, educators, administrators, and students from BVSD and other Colorado school districts joined together at Innovate@BVSD 2018. They spent time learning about and experiencing creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration in action throughout the conference. Hear what teachers and students had to say about the conference in this short video:

My team and I look forward to welcoming you back for another great school year and seeing some of these new resources in action! If you have any thoughts or input that you feel can be helpful, please chime in below.

Andrew Moore
CIO, Boulder Valley School District

Friday, May 11, 2018

Internet Safety, Web Filter, and Partnerships

As technology use at BVSD grows, so do the questions and concerns about internet safety. BVSD is committed to continual improvement in this area which remains a priority as the internet grows and tools to help mitigate safety concerns evolve.

Let me share some information on what BVSD does to help ensure our students are safe, starting with our web filter. BVSD’s Palo Alto firewall/web filter was purchased 3 years ago after a competitive search process. This top-rated technology is used by many school districts in Colorado and across the nation.

At the elementary level, we block 26 categories and over 300 additional websites that have been brought to our attention by teachers and parents. Some of the blocked categories include abused drugs, adult, alcohol, tobacco, copyright infringement, dating, games, gambling, hacking, malware, nudity, phishing, sex education, social media, swimsuits, intimate apparel, and weapons.

To allow for age-appropriate access and an increase in the student’s level of responsibility, the additional categories of gaming, sex education, and select social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Skype, Pinterest) are opened at the MS/HS level.

Our web filter, although powerful, is not perfect. This is true with all web filters, either at home or at school. In some cases, filtering, regardless of settings, can under-block bad sites and over-block good sites at the same time.

Current practices are in alignment with other districts and strive to strike a balance between a protected, yet real-world environment. An additional challenge is that students can and do use their phones to create “hotspots” in order to access restricted sites when the content they are looking for is blocked by our filter. We do not want our students on hotspots, as this prevents us from intervening when something unsafe is happening.

For these reasons internet safety is not viewed as just a technology issue, but something that requires a partnership between everyone involved. Teachers use engaging instructional practices and actively manage their classrooms. Students need to understand their responsibilities and practice good digital citizenship to prepare them for life. Parents can help by setting appropriate boundaries and having ongoing conversations with their students about technology use. All of us have a responsibility to continue educating ourselves and each other about the latest technology trends and research.

On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, the Board of Education will be facilitating a study session where we will share details about what we currently do to help keep our students safe and what additional steps could be taken with appropriate investments. 

Areas we will cover include classroom management software, proactive self-harm/bullying detection software, and policy updates, such as recommending a ban on the usage of hotspots and a requirement for staff and students to report harmful sites that get through our filters.

The meeting will be in the Boardroom at the Education Center from 5-7pm.  Please join us if this topic is of interest to you.

And please feel free to chime in below with your thoughts on this important topic.