Electronic Technology in Schools: Responsible and Ethical Use and Access

There are many ways in which electronic technology may be used in classrooms and school environments to enhance and promote student learning. Some technology is immediately familiar to students, and often includes instant audio and/or video recording features and immediate ability to share and post what has been recorded.

As educators, we may be involved in recording activities in the classroom, in manipulating recorded data for further pedagogical uses, and in displaying work or sharing it electronically in a board-authorized forum. As we do so, are we ensuring that the use of technology is couched within an articulated framework of civic and ethical obligations? Have our administrators or other supervisory personnel provided sufficient guidance and rules? Are we modelling responsible use of technology?

Further, as we embrace new opportunities for using electronic technology as part of our programs, are we also sufficiently mindful of the economic and other gaps among students that leave many without access to such technology?

Student Use of Electronic Technology

You may be encouraging students to explore and experiment with technology in various parts of your classroom program, and students may be eager to do so. As with any learning medium, the use of technology must be carried out under your supervision, be for pedagogical reasons, be done safely, and not breach school rules or expectations of conduct.

It is important to be aware of the rules your school board has in place to govern student use of personal electronic devices at school. ETFO’s position is that school boards should adopt policies and procedures dealing with the use of personal electronic devices by students. Such rules should preclude unrestricted use on school property by students and should require that such devices be stored and turned off during the instructional day, unless staff directly authorizes their use.

It is also critical that rules and policies address inappropriate or unauthorized use of personal electronic devices by students that includes cyberbullying and harassment of school staff or students, or the inappropriate or unauthorized use of photos, videos or audio recordings of educators or other staff. ETFO’s perspective is that these uses should not be permitted at any time.

The Education Act  provisions for protecting students from bullying and responding to incidents of bullying specifically include cyberbullying. This may include the creation of a web page or a blog where the creator assumes the identity of another person, the impersonation of another person as the author of content or messages posted on the internet, the communication of material electronically to more than one individual, or the posting of material on a website accessed by one or more individuals.

If you are aware of or suspect that cyberbullying is taking place,



Students sitting in a circle of chairs

Nine-year-old Chris Hadfield was spending a typical summer at his family’s island cottage in southern Ontario when he observed an event that set his life’s direction.