Each year Desert Sands Unified School District holds an educational session titled “Growing Up Digital.” The technology, communications, and safety/security departments join together to offer parents information and advice on keeping their children safe when using electronic devices that connect them to the internet.

This year’s parent night was held in late October. A growing number of parents and guardians attend each year and live translation of the presentation into Spanish takes place throughout the evening.

The presentation began by “hitting the refresh button” to remind parents about the DSUSD Connect initiative which places Chromebooks in the hands of all high school and middle school students as well as a number of elementary schools. The devices are assigned to each student and are used both in the classroom and at home for assignments. At the youngest level, tablets are used by all kindergarten and first grade students. The Connect initiative is described as:

Desert Sands Unified School District understands that learning today is not limited to the school day. The one-to-world Connect initiative levels the playing field for all students by providing equity through access. Connect by Desert Sands opens up the world the all students. In order to meet the demands of the 21st century, Connect extends the classroom experience and fosters creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. The Connect initiative further enhances the DSUSD commitment to support students on their journey toward college, career, and life readiness.

While introducing the use of the unlimited resources of the internet through the Connect initiative, the district is committed to student safety.  Parents were reminded that all student devices are filtered at home just as they are during the school day.  Additionally, every student receives digital citizenship lessons every year in DSUSD through Common Sense Media resources.  Parents were also reminded that students are required to abide by the district’s Responsible Use Policy (RUP).

Among digital resources reviewed at the parent meeting were:

  • Gaggle – a monitoring tool that flags inappropriate and questionable material on student accounts.
  • PSST World – an anonymous tip line for reporting any type of student threat. (www.psstworld.com/report-it)
  • ParentVUE – the parent portal for access to student grades, assignments, and communication.
  • SchoolMessenger – a notification system that shares information with parents on anything from an emergency at a school site to reminders of school events. Parents can choose to receive notifications via telephone (both landline and cell), text, and/or email.
  • DSUSD.US – the website that provides everything you would want to know about the operations of the website with links to all departments and schools. (www.dsusd.us)
  • Social Media – DSUSD maintains both a Facebook page and a Twitter account and these resources are used to share positive messages about the schools and the district as well as serve as emergency information portals when necessary.
  • Peachjar – the electronic flyer system used by all DSUSD schools to share information with parents.
  • The Beacon – the quarterly e-magazine sent out by the district.
  • Community Surveys – utilized by the district to encourage two-way communication.
  • Common Sense Media – resources to teach students about online safety (www.commonsensemedia.org/[1] )

Look for these familiar logos:

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Additional opportunities are being planned for parents to continue to learn more about student digital citizenship and the best ways to use communication tools and techniques.