Less than two week’s into the new school year, a Loganville High School student has started a petition drive objecting to the Walton County School District’s new Internet connectivity policy. The petition, on Change.org, hit 100 signatures in the first hour and on Wednesday, less than 24 hours later, it had more than 300 signatures.
- Students are unable to complete work for some of their classes because of a lack of computers. For example, if I don’t get to the media center early enough, I am unable to finish my work for the day.
- Students who bring their own computers are unable to use them, because they can’t connect to the school WiFi.
- Students that bring their personal iPads to school for school purposes have to miss class time every day in order to use them for their class (which can cause them to lose up to two and a half hours of class time a week).
- Students are unable to contact their guardians. This can be as little as contacting them to find a ride home to being unable to contact them during an in-school or out-of-school emergency.
Williams’ petition claims that the new rule has hindered the learning process of the students.
“I am hoping this petition will show the district how badly it affects the students education. To be clear, this isn’t a form of attacking the county. I am simply getting the message out there and, hopefully, we can sort this all out,” Williams wrote.
But, according to WCSD’s public relations officer Callen Moore, the new policy was instituted specifically to improve students’ ability to use technology. She went on to note that all students have access to school issued devices.
“In order to provide faster internet access district-wide, WCSD opted to remove WiFi access on personal devices during school hours. By only allowing school issued devices access, the bandwidth is not as saturated and provides better internet connection for instruction,” Moore said. “All high school students have access to school issued iPads and desktop computers in the media center and computer labs.”
Moore said instructional technology specialists are assisting students, who bring personal devices from home for instructional use, to ensure they have internet access on those devices.
“If students are still unable to connect their personal devices via WiFi they have Ethernet cords available,” she said.
However, Williams said that the time taken by the specialists to assist the students get connected on their personal devices often causes them to miss important educational time. In addition to the petition drive, she also sent a letter to WCSD asking them to reconsider the policy, noting that if students are breaking rules by the way they use their personal devices, then they should be punished for doing so. She also suggested that teachers could collect phones at the beginning of class or give detention to people who use them in class for anything other than educational use.
“However, disconnecting students from the internet is causing may more issues rather than solving them,” she wrote.
Loganville Christian Academy head administrator, Christy Monda, told guests at the recent Walton County Chamber of Commerce Education Summit, that LCA recently instituted a policy of making students turn in their own devices during the school day and found it to be beneficial in more ways than one.
“What we saw, in taking cell phones out of the hands of our students from 8 until 3, was an increase in engagement. Kids were actually talking to each other in the hallway, they were talking to each other at lunch,” Monda said.
Do you think students should have access to their own personal devices during school time or do you think that the school issued devices should be sufficient for students to use during school hours?