With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Today we started a new trimester. We had shortened periods today so I decided to follow up with the #edchat topic from last evening. The topic asked, how could all education stakeholders balance the need for learning vs. the need for network security and safety? The conversation was very engaging and I left with some good insight from my PLN.

Today I decided to see what my students thought.

First, I played them this video clip.

I took their responses after it was finished.

“Technology is everywhere.”

“Most kids are on facebook and other sites while their teacher is teaching”

“Our jobs are not made yet”

“Most teachers don’t use technology, because they don’t understand it”

I was pleased by each reflective response. Several responses led into brief conversations about technology and education. Once we finished our discussion, I reemphasized how important technology and education are to their future. I quoted Spiderman by saying, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” I asked them what that saying means to them in the context of technology in the classroom. Responses followed…

“there is so much on the internet and we have to be careful where we go.”

“the internet is full of freaks”

“we have to be careful what we click on in case we get a virus”

Again, I was pleased with the frank responses to this question. Each student said their response with subtle hesitation as if they didn’t want to “tattle” on someone next to them. It was an interesting discussion that eventually led to this…

I wrote on the board in bold letters: ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

Based on our discussion, I asked them what kind of rules we should have in place for using technology in our classroom and what should be some of the consequences for inappropriate use. Here is what we came up with…


  1. No social network sites in school
    1. Myspace
    2. Facebook

  1. No games
  2. Laptops are not to be used for notes
    1. When teacher is talking, laptops are down
    2. Notes can be written and transferred to computer
  3. No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
  4. No inappropriate searches for images
  5. Background must be a solid color

And that was it. This is the list we generated and tomorrow I will be sending it home as a hard copy for parents and guardians to sign. The students will bring the contract back, sign it themselves and then had it in to me to sign. I will also make a copy for our principal and our IT department.

When a student breaks a policy what should happen? Here is what the students came up with…

  1. First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
  2. Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
  3. Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
    1. Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back.**

**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.

This is our plan. The plan was created by the students for the students. A contract was signed and will serve as an agreement between all parties. Again, with great power, comes great responsibility.

As educators we can only monitor so much. However, if we give the students the power to govern themselves and act responsible then we can feel comfortable knowing they are using technology as a powerful tool while maintaining responsible behavior. It is not to say we should sit back and not monitor screens, but hope that the students feel they have put something in place that they created and will now live up to.