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 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) - at Ridgway School

Technology is increasingly important in schools and has become essential for learning in our modern world.  To prepare our children to become confident, connected lifelong learners, we must also prepare them to be confident users of a range of technologies.  At Ridgway School we have a range of school owned computers, laptops, tablets and ipads that all children may use and students in Years 5 - 8 are encouraged to “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD).  


We know that it is essential that our children not only learn to use ICT (information communications technology) well for finding things out and creating their own works, but  also that they learn to use it safely.  Our teachers will soon begin to develop a school wide ICT curriculum that includes explicit teaching about  “digital citizenship” and “cyber safety”.


Citizenship and Safety

Digital citizenship ( http://www.mylgp.org.nz/about/what-is-digital-citizenship/ ) is a term that refers to the responsible and ethical use of digital technology, while “cyber safety” (http://www.netsafe.org.nz/) refers to knowing how to maintain personal wellbeing when online and using ICT equipment. Many of us parents and teachers share a concern that children who use the internet may have negative or harmful experiences.  Teaching children what to do when when they come across websites that make them feel uncomfortable, and how to avoid these in the first place is essential and will in future be part of the learning programme at all levels at Ridgway School.  Equally important is teaching children how to safely navigate online environments, leaving only the footprints that they will be happy for others to see long into the future.


ICT User Agreement

Many schools have some form of ICT User Agreement that sets out how they will work in partnership with parents and students to address concerns around cyber-safety and digital citizenship.


We recognised at the beginning of 2015 that as we encourage BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in Years 5-8 and focus on effective use of computers, laptops and ipad/tablets as learning tools at all levels, that we also need to put good systems and protections in place around how all digital technologies are used.


The ICT User Agreement that we have adopted should be seen as a signal that we do indeed take our responsibilities in this area, very seriously.  It is certainly a work in progress and we will continue to refine and develop it to suit our changing needs over time.  The Board of Trustees’ view is that an ICT User Agreement should be signed each year by all students as a reminder of the importance of responsible behaviour in this area and in recognition of how quickly technology and its associated risks change.  As our community grow our shared understandings around how we use ICTs, we expect to be able to simplify the actual document in the future.


Discussion of the ICT User Agreement at home

For some families with younger children there are some aspects of the 2015 ICT User Agreement that may not seem relevant and we all recognise that some of the language in the document is quite complex.  It is very difficult however to decide where any ‘cut off’ should fall for who would need to sign it and who would not, as there are so many ‘what ifs’ and possibilities.  All of our computers access the internet and all of our children can use all of our computers. Next week our junior school children will be using Twitter to participate in a “Kids Ed. Chat”; so it is obvious to us that all of our children need to understand some basics about what is ok and what is not, when using digital technologies at school.  We ask that parents have talk to their children about the ICT Agreement when signing, even if it is just to make clear to your 5 year old that computers and ipads at school are for learning and that the teacher is in charge of how they will be used.  Older children will need to participate in a different discussion at home; perhaps around the topics that they search the internet for, or appropriate use of a device camera to film or take photos.  As parents you know your children best, and the concerns you have for their use of technology and safety should guide the discussion that you choose to have around the ICT User Agreement.  Teachers will also be having these discussions at school.


Bring us your questions and concerns

As we develop our use of digital technology for learning at Ridgway School, we will of course be keen for feedback from our community about what we teach and how we teach it.  Parents with questions and concerns are invited to attend the “Kōrero with Kathryn” on Thursday night at 7.30pm in the library, or get in touch at any time.
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