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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Back-to-school: Know your school's tech policies

The new school year is just around the corner and while parents and students are busy shopping for supplies and enjoying the last days of summer, it is easy to overlook some important back-to-school issues. Below are a few questions every parent should ask their children’s new teachers and/or principals at the beginning of the school year.

Are students allowed to use laptops in the classroom?

Many teachers will encourage the use of laptops for note-taking in the classroom, while others will prohibit them, feeling they are a distraction. It is important to know what your school’s policy is on this and, if laptops are allowed in the classroom, will they be a focal point of any class lessons?

Are students allowed mobile phones in the classroom?

The answer to this might be obvious — of course not! But many teachers and schools have been changing their policies and are using mobile phones as a new way to engage students during lessons.
Will any devices like mp3 players or tablets be used during lessons?

Just like the above questions, every parent should know what kind of technology is being implemented during lessons and what devices will be provided by the school. Many schools are encouraging the use of devices like tablets at a very young age and have implemented them into specific classes.
What gadgets are recommended for my child to successfully complete assignments?

Having access to a computer and the Internet is a given for any student to be successful in their take-home assignments. However, depending on the school and the teacher, other devices might be necessary, especially when it comes to classes such as math and science.
Will there be any communication between students and teachers on social media websites?

Some teachers will create special social media accounts just to keep communication open with their students. It is important to know where your school stands on this often touchy subject. If the school allows this type of communication, talk to your children’s teachers about whether they plan on using websites like Facebook. It is important to let teachers know what level of communication you are comfortable with and what your boundaries are.
Does the school or individual classes have a website to keep parents and students up-to-date?

Many teachers will implement the use of websites to keep students up-to-date with homework assignments and upcoming projects, as well as letting parents know what their child’s progress is in the class. Ask your school and teachers if they use a website, whether it's secure, and how often it is updated.
How are the teachers using technology to keep lessons relevant and up-to-date for modern-day students?

It is an unfortunate fact that many schools have not implemented the use of modern-day technology into their classrooms. However, many schools have and they go the extra mile to engage students on a level they will understand. Is your child’s school one of them? If so, find out what kind of technology they will be using (electronic whiteboards, specific tablet apps, etc.). If not, what can you do as a parent to encourage the school to use more technology? If the issue is something like budget cuts, host fundraisers. If the problem is simply old-school-thinking policy-makers, show them why it is important for kids to be comfortable with technology from a young age. In our modern day, every person needs tech skills.

The above article is reproduced from Kiwi Commons, a news, and information weblog dedicated to providing readers with the most relevant and up-to-date resources available on Internet safety, cyberbullying, social media and digital legacy.

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