As Mashpee High School’s representatives on the Student Advisory Council, Stephen J. Ross, grade 11, and Alyssa N. Farren, grade 12, will join students across the state in proposing a digital literacy policy to the Massachusetts Board of Education for schools to adopt.
The policy, which has been developed by the council over the past school year at monthly regional and state meetings, consists of a three-tiered suggestion for schools with varying levels of technology: those in dire need of technology, those with a moderate level of technology, and those that are technologically advanced.
“I used to think that all schools were the same, but now from talking with people at the state level, I learned that there are a lot of schools with different needs,” Stephen said.
Through discussions with students from other school districts, he and Alyssa were shocked to find that some schools—especially those in western Massachusetts—lack basic resources like wireless Internet and even computers. As technology continues to advance, Alyssa said, concern for the success of these schools grows.
“Certain things like those advancements [suggested in the policy] aren’t going to work for those schools,” she said, adding that she would recommend that schools with limited access to Internet write to the Massachusetts Board of Education to request funding.
The two students agreed that the experience has given them a newly found appreciation for the resources available to them in Mashpee.
“I never looked at us [MHS] being an advanced school for technology, but we have WiFi throughout the school, computer labs, iPads...I’m sure by the time I get out of college, every student is going to have an iPad,” Alyssa said.
Stephen said that using Edmodo, a website that Mashpee students use to complete assignments, “provides lightning-fast efficiency” that is incomparable to traditional textbooks, pencils and paper.
“Technology can essentially eliminate textbooks so that you don’t have to bring your textbooks home,” he said. “I still have a lot of textbooks, but in the future, that could be a possibility.”
Until then, he and Alyssa hope that their high school will embrace a “bring your own device” policy, in which students would be allowed to use their own technological devices in school— for school work, of course.
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Mashpee doesn’t have a policy like that, Alyssa said, and she and Stephen disagree with their school’s rule that students are only allowed to use their cell phones in the cafeteria for music.
“I think that should change because at lunchtime, who cares what you’re doing?” Stephen said.
The digital literacy policy will be finalized by the Student Advisory Council at a statewide meeting at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden on May 15. Afterward, a representative from the council will propose the policy to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
If approved, the policy will be suggested to public schools throughout the state.