LIVINGSTON, NJ - The rapidly changing face of technology will have a profound effect both on the schools and students of the future and in the way the Livingston Board of Education sets policy to deal with this technology.
These were some of the conclusions reached at Wednesday’s Livingston school board workshop session as the education body grappled with several of its policies and with its strategic plan and goals.
One example is the use of cell phones in schools.
Superintendent of Schools Brad Draeger noted the policy on the phones at Livingston High School had changed to allow students to use the phones in the cafeterias and hallways while requiring them to be out of sight in the classroom. Previously cell phones were prohibited throughout the entire school building.
Technology is evolving so quickly, however, board member Ronnie Spring noted, that teachers can now connect with a website that will enable them to download a survey to which their students will be able to respond by texting their answers using cell phones in the classroom.
Spring said the board had to develop policies that outlined how the school system can utilize this technology while, at the same time, making sure it is not abused.
Of particular concern, Spring noted, is cell phone videotaping that can be used to engage in cyber bullying of students on the Internet.
Board member Chuck Granata also noted in the future students and teachers will be able to record classroom lectures and stream these lectures onto the Internet for possible future reference by parents and students.
Draeger noted, however, this presents proprietary issues for teachers who might hold rights to their lectures.
Other board members also noted some students might record the lectures and then edit them to change the interpretation originally intended by the teachers.
Draeger also said the school system needs to do more to involve students in word processing, which, he said, will be an important part of learning in the future.
The Superintendent and board members agreed the district will have to explore improved school infrastructure and in-house instruction for teachers to deal with the technology.
Another technological issue for board members was their own use of E-mails and chat messaging.
Board Vice President Tony Calcado noted the board’s policy on these issues had not been reviewed for eight years. This, he said, was too long a period to wait in age of “cyber media.”
The Superintendent did note, however, that current board policies preclude discussion in E-mails and chat of matters that are the subject of confidential matters correctly discussed at closed sessions of the board and matters which properly should be completely aired in public meetings.
Another policy that needs some clarification, Winograd said, is the board’s stand on student drinking of alcohol at school functions not held on school property.
That and other items covered in some detail in the student handbook and the Code of Conduct need to be outlined more specifically in board policy, the board members said.
Calcado also said board policies should be developed only after school body members and the public present goals that give a direction the policies should follow.
On the topic of public input, board members and Draeger also saw a need for expanded board interaction with the community.
Spring said the board should move its meetings to the various elementary schools and possibly have “meet and greet” sessions with PTA members after PTA meetings.
Granata said this might encourage more residents to become interested in running for the school board.
Draeger, however, said it might be more productive for more board members to attend PTA meetings rather than actually moving board meetings to the various schools.
The board decided to discuss its ideas with the Parent-Teacher Council before determining which approach to follow.