We believe that integrating technology into the classroom is necessary to assist the development of 21st-century skills and to facilitate visual and auditory learning. All students are provided their own new laptop upon enrollment for use in the classroom. However, Shortridge sets limits on each student’s internet access and the use of computers outside the classroom. Laptops are used to enhance students’ writing and research skills. In addition, students develop technical skills by having the opportunity to become familiar with and fluent in a wide range of software. Teachers have access to a smart board, projectors, and other audio/visual equipment to enhance instruction.
Shortridge believes that computers are important tools for learning, which is why students have individual laptops. Technology is integrated in various ways across the curriculum in order to enhance the development of students’ writing, research skills, and creative resourcefulness. However, certain challenges and even risks are associated with allowing students to access the Internet. Despite the challenges, it is essential that students learn to use this technology appropriately and to balance their time while in the more structured environment that Shortridge provides. The academic goal is for them to reach a level of technological proficiency necessary for college and most careers. At the same time, teaching students how to manage their computer use while balancing other very important aspects of their lives promotes decision-making and problem-solving skills applicable and essential to positive development.
Student Internet Profiles
In order to balance the needs of our students, the capabilities of our network infrastructure, and the philosophy of our school with regard to technology use, we have created three distinct Internet profiles:
The Limited Internet Profile is for students whose teams have determined that they need the highest level of structure with regard to Internet use. If a team or family is concerned about their student’s access to communications technology, access to gaming websites, or excessive distractions on the web, then this is the profile that we would use. It is limited to fewer categories accessible through the Internet, such as the gaming category and entertainment.
The Standard Internet Profile is used by the majority of our students. It has recently been reconfigured to support Apple resources such as iTunes, App Store, and Messages. Students with this Internet profile will have a more normalized Internet experience. It’s important to note that VPN software or extensions may work within this Internet profile. It has always been against school policy to use any such means to get around the content filter. If a student is found to have used these things, then she or he will be removed from this profile and restricted to the Limited Internet Profile (other consequences may apply as well). The streaming media/downloads, entertainment, and gaming categories will all be open in the Standard Internet Profile.
The Enhanced Internet Profile has access to websites categorized as social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). Uncategorized areas of the Internet are unblocked, which ensures a virtually seamless Internet experience. This means no arbitrary blocks from new/unidentified content servers, no broken web pages due to blocked java applets, and no blocked or interrupted services within the more complex encrypted web resources like Steam. This Internet profile is reserved for students who have shown a great deal of responsibility and adherence to computer agreements.
The school reserves the right to monitor and track all behaviors and interactions that take place online or through the use of technology on our property or at our events. We also reserve the right to investigate any reports of inappropriate actions related to any technology used at school. All emails and messages sent through the school’s network or accessed on a school computer can be inspected. Any files saved onto a school computer can also be inspected. Students should have a limited expectation of privacy when using their own technology on school property or at school events, so long as no activity violates policies and laws or compromises the safety and well-being of the school community.
All access to the Internet is filtered and monitored through the Lightspeed Relay Content Filtering system. The school cannot monitor every activity but retains the right to monitor activities that utilize school-owned technology. By filtering Internet access, we intend to block offensive, obscene, and inappropriate images and content, including pornography.
Policy on R-rated Movies and M-rated Video Games
Students who have parental approval are allowed on outings or while on campus to watch R-rated movies and play M-rated video games at designated times. However, not all R-rated movies and M-rated video games are appropriate for students here. Guidelines are used to assess if a movie or video game is allowed in a group setting at Shortridge Academy. To rate films and video games staff will use the parental guidelines section of IMDB.com, which has the following categories: sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and lastly frightening or intense scenes. The entirety of the parental guidelines section of the Student Handbook should be read as some things do not fall under the category of “severe” but are still inappropriate for our students.
Unacceptable Uses of Technology: Cell Phones and PDAs
Cell phones and PDAs are permitted on campus, but they must be turned off at all times and stored in the Hub. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis for students who travel off campus, but currently no students are allowed to use their personal devices while on campus unless they are a second-year student (post graduation) and have the permission of their family, therapist, and the IT department.