Reform Policy 311 for Modern Computers and Devices

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In the past 40 years, technology has spanned all industries, cultures and organizations. It’s only recently that we’ve seen these devices enter the world of education. Even so, we students still find ourselves struggling to use technology in school environments. Why is this?

In New Brunswick, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development uses Policy 311 to govern the usage of computers, smart phones and other devices. Every student must agree if they intend on using the school Wi-Fi and computers. This sheet gets sent home with every student at the beginning of the year, piled under a stack of other forms that neither the student nor parent actually read.

Policy 311 was first established in 1996, having its last revision in 2004. In 1996, the internet hadn’t reached globalization, and in 2004, the first-generation iPhone was still years away from the hands of consumers. This alone is a good indication that the policy might be just a little bit outdated. Frankly, it is.

For an example, the document states students cannot use instant messaging platforms (such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat or similar apps) due to their “anonymous nature”.

Sadly, age isn’t the only problem with Policy 311.

Policy 311 is incredibly vague. In fact, the vagueness of Policy 311 actually makes it more restrictive than it needs to be. For example, section 6.2.1 explains how users cannot create, access or store content that’s “generally considered” unlawful, obscene or hate-motivated among other things. The term “generally considered” feels like a pretty lazy way of making your rules apply to more people while in reality it is not specific enough. If the words of a controversial politician are generally considered hate-motivated, can students taking political science still study this portion of history?

Policy 311 also includes rules that don’t actually benefit the school environment at all. Consider how students shall not register a domain name without prior approval from the Department. A domain name is like your address on the internet and is a basic necessity for building a company. How can you promote entrepreneurship while also denying students the ability to do something as fundamental as registering a domain name?

As students, we have created this petition to bring attention to the many issues with Policy 311, and to remind other students and parents alike how important technology is in education. We ask the department:

To revise Policy 311 and to ensure that all aspects are up-to-date with modern technology.

To demystify the policy, and to confirm that all language used in Policy 311 is clearly defined.

To ensure that the only restrictions set in the policy are the ones which are actually required to establish a safe environment for students and staff.

The internet is important. This policy is over 13 years old, and it’s time to see it modernized. Of course, don’t take our word for it. I highly recommend you read Policy 311 yourself before you decide to sign.



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