WPS Digital Learning
What can digital learning do for students in Watertown?
This video outlines the promise and the possibilities of digital learning.
Online Learning at WPS
Watertown Public Schools utilizes a variety of online tools, including Google Apps for Education, automated grading programs and online testing applications in our classrooms. These resources allow our students to employ advanced online tools in their daily work.
WPS has created limited online accounts for students. Students are granted specific email functionality based on their grade level. When each year begins, grades eight and under are limited to exchanging messages with others in the District while those in the High School are less restricted. Grade eight students participate in an important Humanities project titled 'Choosing to Participate'. This project includes students contacting local and national government agencies and politicians. Thus, halfway through their eighth grade year, students' email restrictions are lifted in order to ensure that they can use school email to complete this global citizenship project.
Our students will use online educational tools including those listed above. The District complies with Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) regulations and uses a combination of filtering, monitoring and education to limit student access to inappropriate online content and ensure student privacy. Filtering is limited to devices connected to the school network, however students are bound by the District’s acceptable use policy (AUP) whenever they use school-provided devices or services, regardless of their location.
Digital Learning is "learning facilitated by technology that gives students some element of control over time, place, path and/or pace."
- Time: Learning is no longer restricted to the school day or the school year. The Internet and a proliferation of Internet access devices have given students the ability to learn anytime.
- Place: Learning is no longer restricted within the walls of a classroom. The Internet and a proliferation of Internet access devices have given students the ability to learn anywhere and everywhere.
- Path: Learning is no longer restricted to the pedagogy used by the teacher. Interactive and adaptive software allows students to learn in their own style, making learning personal and engaging. New learning technologies provide realtime data that gives teachers the information they need to adjust instruction to meet the unique needs of each student.
- Pace: Learning is no longer restricted to the pace of an entire classroom of students. Interactive and adaptive software allows students to learn at their own pace, spending more or less time on lessons or subjects to achieve the same level of learning.
Digital learning is more than just providing students with a laptop. Digital learning requires a combination of technology, digital content and instruction.
- Technology: Technology is the mechanism that delivers content. It facilitates how students receive content. It includes Internet access and hardware, which can be any Internet access device – from a desktop to a laptop to an iPad to a smartphone. Technology is the tool, not the instruction.
- Digital Content: Digital content is the high quality academic material which is delivered through technology. It is what students learn. It ranges from new engaging, interactive and adaptive software to classic literature to video lectures to games. It isn’t simply a PDF of text or a PowerPoint presentation.
- Instruction: Educators are essential to digital learning. Technology may change the role of the teacher but it will never eliminate the need for a teacher. With digital learning, teachers will be able to provide the personalized guidance and assistance to ensure students learn and stay on track – throughout the year and year after year – to graduate from high school. Teachers may be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.
 Definition from Digital Learning Now!
Watertown has entered into a partnership with surrounding communities to help ensure student privacy when using third parties called Massachusetts Student Privacy Alliance (MSPA). You can read more about this alliance at the website as well as see the four versions of the student privacy agreements here. It is the hope that with so many schools increased attention to the importance of student privacy, this will begin a movement for state regulation of online vendors.
Additional Resources for Google Apps for Education
- Answers to many top questions about Google's privacy and security appear on the Google Apps for Education's Trust page.
- The Google Apps for Education Privacy Statement describes how Google products and services collect and use information when used with Apps for Education accounts.
- Information about the legal commitments Google makes for Apps for Education Core and Additional Services is available in their Help Center.
- Information about how Google’s products work to protect privacy is available in their Product Privacy Guide.