Drafting your school’s device policy

While integrating technology into the curriculum has enormous educational advantages, devices at school can cause disruptions if their use is not regulated. Schools can minimise distractions and/or inappropriate use of technology by instituting a device policy.

A device policy for your school serves as a reference for staff and students, and should outline acceptable IT use at your institution. Below are a few things to consider including:

  • Importantly, the use of electronic devices, including camera use, must never contravene your school’s Code of Conduct and/or school rules.
  • Your policy can stipulate which types of devices are permitted at school and in which contexts you allow them to be used (e.g. you may note that laptops can be used in class but that cell phones must be turned off and packed away).
  • You may wish to include that devices must always have enough memory space for school work.
  • You may decide to include information regarding internet usage and coverage in your policy. Does your school provide internet access to students? Is internet connectivity limited to or better in certain areas of your school? Who is responsible for data costs of devices connecting to the internet?
  • You may want to outline when devices are permitted to be switched on (and whether ‘silent’ or ‘vibrate’ mode(s) are okay or not).
  • Similarly, your device policy may stipulate where devices can be used and for which purposes (e.g. ‘in class, for educational purposes only’).
  • As part of minimising disruptions that devices can cause, you may decide to ban any public broadcasting (e.g. listening to music or a video without using earphones).
  • If devices come with cameras, you may want to consider whether students are permitted to take photographs or videos and if so, whether there are restrictions on this use.
  • You may wish to outline what type of content can be stored on devices used at your school, as well as what constitutes unacceptable written or visual content (e.g. pornography, gratuitous violence, profane or offensive language).
  • The document can contain a clause noting that users are responsible for charging, backing-up and updating their devices,
  • Your policy can also address issues of safety and security of devices, stipulating that users need to be careful and diligent with their own devices. You may wish to recommend that devices be insured privately, that device location services are turned on, that users label their devices with their names, and/or that protective covers and screen protectors are used.
  • You may recommend or require that users install anti-virus software on their devices.
  • You may wish to include that a member of staff has the right to search the contents of a device under specific circumstances (e.g. if the device is causing technology problems, or if the device violates the school’s Code of Conduct).
  • You will need to consider whether you require students to use passwords and/or lock-screens. In the event that a staff member needs to inspect the device, your policy can make allowance for this, stating that the user will be required to unlock the device.
  • You may wish to direct students to a designated member of staff who is on hand to help with device related issues during school hours.