Dear Dalat Parents,
From time to time I have someone fill in for me in writing the “director’s” note that gets the top billing of the Dalat News. This week I am having an article by Brian Brewster, high school principal, about technology and our children fill this spot.
Mr. Karl Steinkamp
Last week I talked about the way technology is changing our world. Did you know that as many as 1 in 8 couples today first met online?! The leadership at Dalat believes that we should seize the opportunity to teach students to use technology well rather than hide them from it. A student who graduated last year wrote the following:
“I just want to thank you for the iPad system that is in place at Dalat. I used to be a person who is against incorporating iPads in classes, but now I can see how important it is to have iPad skills. Not all my professors here allow iPads but for the classes that do, Notability saves me from taking 7 to 10 pages of notes on paper. My iPad is helping me get organized in and out of class, I think my first week of lectures was smooth because I had an iPad to help me catch everything important.”
But along with the benefits of technology come many dangers as well. At Dalat we are well aware of these pitfalls, and want to do what we can to both protect and teach kids to protect themselves. How do we do this? Our first line of defense is our teachers who are encouraged to be vigilant and aware of what students are doing. Our students are also reasonably good at policing each other’s actions. To protect students when they are on campus, we use filtering software that prevents access to certain web sites.
You may wonder why we have not allowed 3G iPads. The simple reason is so that every student accesses the web through our filters which allow us to block certain content. We have also taken the initiative to lock down iPads with restrictions that prevent them from having inappropriate content. Note that the new operating system (OS 7) blocks adult content in the Safari browser directly which will limit access not just on our campus but everywhere. This is why we require our students to upgrade to the new operating system.
All of this is good protection, but the truth is we will never be able to block everything. So as part of their “education for life,” we are teaching them why they want to make good choices. Our digital citizenship class for ninth-grade students helps them understand the dangers of the web and learn how to navigate them. Our media literacy class, which is now a graduation requirement, helps students understand the influence of media on them and their culture and how to make informed decisions.
This gives you an idea of the steps we are taking as a school to both prepare our students for the world and protect them from it. Next week, I will focus on what parents can and should be doing to help partner with the school on the issue of online safety.
Mr. Brian Brewster
High School Principal