Shawnee Mission task force makes recommendations for technology use in classrooms

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- As students head back to school, they'll likely be required to use tablets and computers to complete assignments.

But some parents worry they're becoming a distraction.

Just this week, Shawnee Mission School District's "Digital Learning Task Force" sent out a list of recommendations for the new school year.

The letter, which can be viewed here, lists five recommendations sent to every principal in the district.

  1. No devices during recess
  2. A balanced approach to instruction and resource utilization
  3. Use the technology for educational purposes
  4. Encourage self-directed PD around digital learning
  5. Devices in specials/elective courses only when they pertain to the curriculum (especially at the elementary level)

"We think that is definitely a step in the right direction. We do not believe there should be any iPad use during indoor recess when they could be playing games," parent Erica Frans said.

While there are plenty of opportunities for learning on the district-issued iPads, some parents worry about the challenges that come along with it. There's currently a list of nearly 350 approved apps for student to use.

"We are also concerned about the school district's ability to properly vet all of these apps since the content will possibly change," Frans said.

A spokesperson for the school district said these recommendations are not set in stone, and they expect them to evolve throughout the year.

Some schools, like Trailwood Elementary School, have followed the guidelines and decided to add additional ones, like restricting all non-educational games on district devices.

Frans said this is an important lesson for all parents in every district to pay close attention to what your child is searching online.

"It is OK to tell them to put it away, and it is exciting to see what they end up doing with that free time. We want kids to be interested in life around them and not just focused on their screens," Frans said.

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