Take home technology monitored closely in Indiana school distric - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Take home technology monitored closely in Indiana school district

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Every student in grades 4-12 has a system-issued iPad or MacBook as part of a technology program instituted more than three years ago. Every student in grades 4-12 has a system-issued iPad or MacBook as part of a technology program instituted more than three years ago.
Beyond in-school discipline, and contacting law enforcement, SCSD #2 toughened its Use Policy. Beyond in-school discipline, and contacting law enforcement, SCSD #2 toughened its Use Policy.
Superintendent Marc Slaton Superintendent Marc Slaton
Michelle Mihalik Michelle Mihalik

SCOTTSBURG, IN (WAVE) - MacBooks puts Paris only a mouse-click away for students of Michelle Mihalik's French classes at Scottsburg High School.

"I can show them French families conversing at the dinner table," Mihalik said. "We can video-chat. Google-Maps can put you into the French countryside.

[RELATED STORY: JCPS: Students nude photo postings are cyber-bullying, likely criminal]

Every student in grades 4-12 has a system-issued iPad or MacBook as part of a technology program instituted more than three years ago, Scott County Schools District #2 Superintendent Marc Slaton said Monday. Scottsburg Middle School has won an Apple Innovation award.

"We tell students we're given them Cadillac-level technology," Slaton said. "But with that, we expect them to respect it and to use it responsibly."

[RELATED STORY: JCPS investigates Instagram pages displaying inappropriate photos of students]

"We have a very good tech department that is constantly monitoring computers," Mihalik said.

SCSD #2 students incorporate Instagram technology in project presentations, so administrators are familiar with its facilities and foibles. District monitors haven't discovered inappropriate postings similar to the nude photographs of Jefferson County Public Schools students, but student activity has crossed the line.

"About five or six years ago, we had kids that would 'sext' each other--send inappropriate pictures of themselves to another," Slaton said.  "And we took the necessary action."

Beyond in-school discipline, and contacting law enforcement, SCSD #2 toughened its Use Policy. Before students are issued their iPads or MacBooks, they must agree not to "access, submit, post, publish, forward, download, scan, or display defamatory, abusive, obscene, vulgar, sexually-explicit, sexually-suggestive, threatening, discriminatory, harassing, bullying and/or illegal materials or messages."

The technology is take-home, which means the monitoring continues after classes are dismissed.

"We've had instances where we've had to discipline students where they've gotten a little out of bounds," Slaton said.

The software programs red-flag certain words immediately, so that teachers and principals can address issues within minutes. 

"Words such as ‘bomb', ‘kill',  or ‘genocide' will trigger it, but we also can tell pretty quickly whether these word searches or surfing are for classwork, or something else," Slaton said.

In one case, a student was researching a project on civil wars in Africa. It prompted a trip to the Principal's office, but faculty addressed the concerns quickly and easily, Slaton said.

He has put together Tech Nights for parents, to clue them in on the tools and on the potentials for trouble. Mihalik has five children in SCSD #2.

"They've made it possible for us to monitor their grades, monitor their homework, everything that's going on," Mihalik said. "So absolutely; as parents, we have to be involved."

She also knows only too well, how students tend to test limits.

"We expect them to, but we make them aware they can expect to hear about it," Mihalik said. "And word gets around. If they get in trouble, their friends are sure to hear about it too."

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