School Leaders Collaborate on Best Practices for District-Level Digital Media Policy


12.13.11 | School leaders from around the country met in Washington, D.C., last week to collaborate on creating models for digital media use policies in K-12 education.

Administrators from 13 school districts were selected by the Consortium on School Networking (COSN) to work together on district-level issues like acceptable use policies, the use of student-owned mobile devices or social media in the classroom, how to use social media to communicate with parents and community members, connections to out-of-school learning, and encouraging students to share their work online.

Through its Participatory Learning in Schools: Policy & Leadership initiative, COSN has been one of the leaders in helping school administrators respond to digital media challenges at the policy and organizational level. We’ve reported on COSN’s efforts to help districts create high-quality, responsible acceptable use policies that support technology as an important component of teaching and learning. 

“In classrooms across the country, there are excellent things happening with digital media here and there.” James Bosco, principal investigator for the Participatory Learning in Schools initiative, said in a press release.  “However, the critical problem we face is ‘going to scale.’ Each of the districts selected has demonstrated a commitment to making best practice use of digital media standard practice throughout the district.” 

Here’s the full list of participating districts:  Calcasieu Parish Public Schools (La.); Centennial School District (Pa.); Chicago Public Schools; Fairfax County Public Schools (Va.); ISD 199, Inver Grove Heights Community Schools in (Minn.); Katy Independent School District (Texas); Manor Independent School District (Texas); Mooresville Graded School District (N.C.); Oconomowoc School District (Wis.); Springfield Public Schools (Mass.); State College Area School District (Pa.); Stillwater Area Public Schools (Minn.); Trussville City Schools (Ala.); and Westfield Washington Schools (Ind.).

Administrators formed working groups at the D.C. meeting to tackle key challenges. The criteria COSN used to select participants gives you some idea of what the groups will be working on:

  • The district’s policy regarding the use of student owned mobile devices for classroom instruction;
  • The district’s policy regarding the use of social media for classroom instruction by students;
  • The extent to which social media is used by teachers and/or administrators to communicate with parents and community;
  • Whether the district’s acceptable use policies (AUP) have been revised to respond to recent developments in the proliferation of Web 2.0 applications and mobile devices;
  • Whether district-wide initiatives, practices or policies have been established in the last three years to promote major modifications in teaching and learning in the district;
  • Whether the district has implemented policies, guidelines or programs to cultivate safe, responsible and effective use of social media;
  • Whether there are district-wide initiatives to encourage and support collaborative learning;
  • Whether the district has in place policies, resources or practices to encourage and enable students to post and publish their work on the Web and/or participate in civic, artistic, cultural activities that go beyond school;
  • Whether there any district level policies, practices or formal organizational linkages that support efforts to connect students’ out-of-school learning in clubs, libraries, museums, etc. or personal online networks, websites, etc. with their school in-school learning; and
  • Whether student digital literacy competencies are assessed.

COSN plans to publish progress reports that will include lessons learned and case studies. We’ll be sure to cover these once they’re released.

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