Each year, our laptop program begins
with three mini-workshops that
focus on the issues of physical care,
guidelines for appropriate use, and
ethics. Students travel in small groups
and participate in a variety of activities
and discussions with teachers and
tech staff. They have the chance to
ask questions and review key aspects
of laptop learning at Nueva.
As part of the morning workshops,
leaders from Common Sense Media
( www.commonsensemedia.org) join
teachers to work with our students.
The not-for-profit organization
provides information and tools to give
families a choice and a voice in the
media they consume. We use parts of
the Common Sense Media Digital Life
curriculum to have students explore
challenging ethical situations involving
digital media, and to develop solutions
We invite a technology educator to
speak to the students at midday.
This past September, we heard from
internationally recognized technology
leader and educator Alan November.
He tapped into student imagination
about the possibilities of media and
ways to leverage technology tools
for deep, authentic learning. In the
afternoon, we have students engage
in a media creation project, such as
making an iMovie about the opening
advisory overnight camping trip.
Students pull together video footage
and photographs to make their
films and then share with the whole
community. On the day of the boot-up camp, we hold parent education
meetings to discuss and review the
acceptable-use policy and to talk
about how to manage the home
computing environment. We asked
several parents to write a parent tips
guide for the laptop program (http://
nuevaschool.org/programs/one-to-one-laptop-program), and we share
and strategize with parents about how
to “keep the peace” at home.
The goal of the boot-up camp
is to bring together the key
and parents—to get the community
on the same page about laptop
From the school’s perspective, the academic purpose of the laptops
had disappeared into a vortex of social networking, especially when
it was occurring during the school day.
We really love it [iChat] and use it
for important uses.…We believe
that the parents can block it for
their own children if they want,
but it is not fair for them to block
it for the whole middle school.
Other students were less circum-
spect. One commented:
My mom says that the majority
of angry old people are OK with
video chat at school. However,
after 3: 30 it should go off.… I am
actually glad that you decided on
a blanket ban. Otherwise it would
be like teasing us. Giving it to us
for a little bit then taking it away.
Boy, that would be horrible!
Many parents sharpened their
quills to share their opinions as well.
One parent wrote:
iChat was wonderful. It truly
broke the “clique” boundaries
that tend to occur at school. Also,
as our daughter is very busy and
goes to a commuter school, she
has almost no social life. We as
parents were relieved that the
clique boundary seemed broken
on iChat and that she was engag-
ing socially with her classmates. I
also second the opinion expressed
by other parents that iChat is like
TV or video games or Internet
browsing. It is the responsibility
of the parent to teach the children
how best to use these tools. Each
parent can establish household
rules as they wish. We are in favor
of bringing iChat back! Censor-
ship is not necessary nor wanted.
The situation had turned into an
issue of freedom of speech. But
from the school’s perspective, the
academic purpose of the laptops
had disappeared into a vortex of social
networking, especially when it was oc-
curring during the school day.
The relationship between home and school rose to the surface and called
into question the boundary issues associated with the two bodies.