Computers and Internet Use Policy

This policy was formally adopted by the Board of Management on 24 October 2007 after consultation with staff, parents and students.

This policy is based on the values of excellence in education, educational access, ease of access to information, effective motivation for students, safety of students, student development for global wareness. These values harmonise with the mission of Sancta Maria to strive to be a centre of academic excellence. In the course of its history, Sancta Maria has adapted to new educational tools and resources. The policy is also based on the desire for a safe learning environment for students.

Aims and Rationale

As access to the computer technology is a relatively new educational resource, the aim of the policy is to provide clarity for everyone — student, parents and teachers — in knowing the policy being utilised by the school in student access to and use of computer technology, including the internet.

Awareness of the hazards to young people in access to the internet require that the school state clearly its use of the internet in the course of instruction across all areas of the curriculum.

The internet is a worldwide network of computers that contains millions of pages of information. Access to this information is highly desirable as it is worldwide and accessible. However, many of the pages of the internet contain offensive and inappropriate information. It is difficult to avoid at least some contact with this material while using the internet.

The policy should be effective in providing a framework for the use of computers. The policy is effective if students are gaining the educational benefits of access to computers including the internet without incurring risks to their safety and well-being, and without incurring harm to the safety of others.

This policy aims to optimise the benefits of access to computer technology including the internet while minimising the risks. The policy aims to maximise access in the following order of priority:

Students

  • Students who require timetabled
  • computer needs
  • Non-computing classes as a teaching resource
  • Students for other school-based needs
  • Students as a learning support
  • Students for other uses

Teachers

  • Teachers as a preparation/research support
  • Teachers for other uses

Content

Students should use the computers as instructed by a teacher and/or as below:

  • No computer equipment may be removed from its location without permission
  • Uploading and downloading of non-approved software will not be permitted
  • The use of personal floppy disks, memory sticks, CD-ROMs, DVDs or other digital storage media in school requires a teacher’s permission
  • Printing is for single copies.

Internet usage and safety

The internet is an excellent resource for education across the curriculum. Internet use and access is considered a school resource and privilege. However, there are three categories of risk associated with student use of the internet:

  • Exposure to illegal and/or harmful images and text, whether violent, racist or explicit in nature
  • Receipt of messages that are demeaning, threatening or in other ways disturbing or detrimental to a student’s well-being
  • The possibility of being lured into a physical encounter that might threaten a student’s safety and well-being. Cases have been reported where paedophiles have used the internet to initiate contact with a student, gain the student’s confidence and, ultimately, to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

These risks can be reduced by controlled access, supervision, traffic monitoring, and filtering software. In Sancta Maria College internet usage is filtered, logged and monitored. The school reserves the right to monitor all traffic and emails. One or any combination of the following risk reducers should be in place at any time:
blocking, filtering, supervision, monitoring.

Permission to use the internet may be given by a teacher acting “in loco parentis.” Different filtering levels are used for the different student groups and teachers.

Teachers must not give their password to students or allow students access to the internet with their password. Teachers should use the student username/password appropriate to the level of student they are teaching.

Online activities to previously evaluated educational resources or previously sourced safe sites are recommended.

Students must not share username/passwords.

Use of the internet should primarily be for school-based use. Students using the internet must follow the usage rules as laid down by their teacher. Students may access only the sites approved by their teacher.

If students are doing research at home as part of school work, supervision and appropriate filtering software are parental responsibility.

Students should be advised about and directed to use netiquette.

Netiquette

Netiquette is correct etiquette for the use of the internet; it embodies the concept of appropriate behaviour in all online activities (for example, sending e-mail, posting messages to forums or participating in online chat sessions):

  • No personal information about the student, the student’s family, teachers or the school is to be disclosed without permission from the teacher supervising the session
  • Any encounter with information or a message that threatens, demeans or otherwise makes the student feel uncomfortable must be reported to the teacher supervising the session and under no circumstances should a response be made to such as message
  • On no account should a student make arrangements for an unsupervised meeting with any other online correspondent without permission
  • If permission is obtained, any planned meeting should be supervised and should occur in a public place
  • Pictures or images, which might assist in identifying an individual, should not be transmitted without permission
  • Use of a full or last name in online correspondence should not occur without permission
  • E-mail attachments from unsolicited or unknown sources should not be opened
  • Registration or the signing of visitors’ books at web sites must be approved by a teacher.

Students can use moderated chat rooms only if directed to by a teacher. This activity must be
closely supervised.

School Web Site

The following precautions should be taken when developing and maintaining content for the school website:

  • Student’s work should appear in an educational context with a notice prohibiting the copying of such work without the expressed written permission of the school
  • No home address, telephone number, contact details, or personal student information should appear with such work
  • The inclusion of portrait style or small group photographs should be avoided — use large group photograph if necessary
  • No name, home address, telephone number, contact details, or personal information should appear with student photographs
  • If a web page is inviting contact from other internet users, use a school or class email address, not a personal one
  • Past students may consent to have the email address posted on the school webpage
  • The school should obtain parental permission prior to publishing any student’s work or photographs of students.

Roles and Responsibilities

School management should ensure that this policy is widely published for staff, students and parents. Management should support the policy with the availability and maintenance of
hardware, software and other appropriate technological educational tools according to the resources of the school.

All staff members who are involved in supervising student access to computers and use of the internet should make sure they are familiar with this policy.

Parents and students should take the responsibility for being familiar with the details of this policy. If the provisions of this policy are not adhered to, all staff members may take steps to impose sanctions on those responsible, in accordance with the College Behaviour Code.

Review of the policy

This policy will be reviewed as technological developments require it. Feedback will be sought from teachers, students and parents on the effectiveness of the policy. The policy will be formally reviewed by the teaching staff two years from October 2007.

Adopted by Board of Management on 24th October 2007.

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