Following a recommendation to principals from the FCPS Department of Information Technology, Statesmen are now allowed to use their smartphones, laptops and e-readers as freely as their teachers allow.
Teachers may designate their classrooms green, blue, yellow or red, with green designated as “general use” and red as “prohibited.”
“[Technology] is going to be ubiquitous,” Superintendent Jack Dale said. “The question like that is how do we use it?”
To use their laptops during class, students must register their devices outside the cafeteria on any Friday through the end of February during lunch or Learn.
Registering one’s device associates the owner’s name with his or her specific device, allowing the school to match names to computers that are on the school’s network.
According to Marshall technology specialist Roxanne Kaylor, the county will fund schools that demonstrate overuse of their Wi-Fi. Student devices must also display a small sticker that reads “FCPS approved.”
“The stickers leave a residue and people should be able to personalize their devices without a frickin’ sticker,” senior Siree Therdsateerasak said.
Other students have expressed their discontent via Facebook.
The group “FCPS electronic reform advocacy” aims to “organize with the administration to change the laws in a way to serve the needs of FCPS and the student body.”
“FCPS barely even warned the student body about this … I don’t look forward to an FCPS oriented SOPA [Stop Online Privacy Act] in the next few years,” senior Tony Sarich wrote in the group, referring to a bill currently in Congress that is commonly considered an attempt to censor the internet.
The Marshall Information Technology department is already capable of viewing the Web sites any device on the school’s network has visited. However, according to Kaylor, surveillance of the data is nonexistent.
“We don’t have the staff to do that,” Kaylor said.
She noted that if a student is taking up “a large amount of our bandwidth … we’re going to go find that device.”
According to principal Jay Pearson, the recommendation came in response to the upward trend in students bringing their devices to school.
“If the system is not going to provide every student with a device, students will have to bring them,” he said.
Pearson also pointed out that Marshall’s core course departments will all eventually make the transition to online textbooks. The history department already employs them, and math textbooks will go online next year.
“In some respects, textbooks will be artifacts of the past,” Pearson said.
Geometry teacher Judy Greenblum said that, while she does not see a place for smartphones in the classroom, she supports the trend toward digitized education.
According to Kaylor, the school’s emergency care forms will have a space to indicate if the student has no home internet access starting next September. The school will then temporarily supply the student with a laptop.
Dale described borrowing a laptop from the school as similar to checking out a book from the school library.
“Sixteen ounces is going to replace ten pounds,” Kaylor said, referring to the respective weights of tablets and textbooks.