A change in the technology policy at Morton High School is making the school more Wi-Fi friendly.
After listening to comments from the teaching staff at the beginning of the year, the high school formed a new committee to take a look at the technology policy that was previously in place.
The committee, made up of administrators, teachers and the district technology coordinator, decided to open up the schools Wi-Fi policy from being limited to just Nooks and Kindles to any Wi-Fi devices.
“Once we started approving Kindle Fires — well, what’s the difference between a Kindle Fire and an iPad?” Principal Marjorie Johnson said. “So we looked at changing more of the practice than the policy.”
Under the new policy, any kind of Wi-Fi device can be brought in as long as parents allow it.
“We felt it was a good way to introduce technology to the classroom without it being a huge cost on our part, and evaluate how it goes to see about looking at going down the cellular route,” she said.
The devices connect through the school’s guest network, which runs through the school filter, so students cannot get on sites they would not be allowed to access in school.
“The whole idea is they bring it so they can use it for educational purposes,” Johnson said.
Currently, Johnson said the American Studies class is using the new policy for in-class polls. She said more teachers will probably use the devices as time went on and more training became available.
To help distinguish where the devices can be used, the school has implemented a stop light system throughout the building. Places where its red, such as hallways, locker rooms and restrooms, mean devices cannot be used at all.
“The reason hallways are red is because of safety and security,” Johnson said. “You don’t want someone carrying an open laptop in a busy hallway and it gets knocked over and broken.”
Yellow locations mean students can use in classrooms with the teacher’s permission, green areas are open use locations, such as study hall and the library area.
“So far, it’s gone really smoothly,” Johnson said. “I really haven’t heard a lot of negatives.”
Currently, the policy has been in effect for a few weeks. During that time she estimates that maybe a quarter of the students have brought devices in.
Johnson added that she will have more exact numbers sometime in March.
She said that the new technology policy is also a trial run to possibly change the cellphone policy in the future. Currently, phones have to be turned off and left in the locker.
“Eventually, we’ll look at the cellphone policy,” Johnson said. “The problem with cellphones is if they’re connected to the cell tower rather than the Wi-Fi network there’s no filter.
She added that a change in that policy would require school board approval.