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District opens network to personal devices

Central Valley School District is opening its wireless network to students and staff. Building administrators are each making plans to phase in access over the next few weeks.

In his most recent blog post, Superintendent Rich Hughes said, “Our students now live in a world with information at their fingertips. It’s less important to remember facts; instead, it’s critical that our students and staff can find information and then use that information properly. The exchange of information and learning is happening faster and faster in the digital world.”

For that reason, the board of education approved two new policies at its December meeting: 5305 Social Media & Electronic Device Policy (PDF) and 7602 Acceptable Use Policy for Mobile Devices (PDF). Together, they offer students and staff access to the link their cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc. to the district’s high speed Internet service.

Gaining access

To link to the district network, a staff member must first sign an employee agreement stating he or she will abide by the district’s policies governing appropriate activities on the network. Students and their parents must sign a corresponding student agreement. Once the district has a signed agreement, technology staff will enable access via an individual’s district-issued username and password. Staff and students will then be able to follow the step-by-step instructions to link their personal electronic devices to the network.

Note: In some wireless carriers use connection optimization apps that could interfere with a user’s ability to connect to the network. In those cases, the user may need to disable that device software.

Access at no cost

A big benefit for all users will be the ability to access the high-speed Internet without using personal or family data plans.

“Anyone who has gone over their data plan knows how expensive that can be,” said Dr. Hughes.

Students and staff will be able to research, write, and collaborate on school projects on their personal devices via the district’s Wi-Fi—for free.

“Students will no longer have to be in a computer lab or particular classroom to work on their science project or history paper. They will sit in the cafeteria or the library or even the hallway and just dive in,” he said.

The possibilities are endless, he said. He envisions Wi-Fi on school buses, allowing students to learn even riding to and from school.

What if?

Skeptics voice concern that students could use the network to waste time or to visit inappropriate websites.

Dr. Hughes explained that people already look for ways to get around the district’s filters. That cannot interfere with making this valuable tool available for the appropriate use.

“We must help our students navigate the digital world in a safe and meaningful way. When mistakes do occur, and that certainly will happen, it will provide a learning opportunity to teach right from wrong,” he said in his blog.

The policies describe network access as a privilege, a privilege that a student or staff member could lose if he or she chooses to violate school use policies. This would include sharing log-in information with an unauthorized user.

Dr. Hughes said that the district is prepared to address any problems, but the main goal is to give everyone an important and safe tool to become better students or teachers.