As educators, we also take the role of second-parents to our students. It is then our obligation to teach them and to protect them. Protecting them from accessing websites that are not appropriate is one.

Should the teachers be in this same umbrella of protection? Should the teachers then be allowed to access the internet without restrictions? If so, where does the boundary lies - shopping sites, personal email sites, etc.

I need your thoughts please. Thank you.

Tags: filtering, internet

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@indigo196 - Thank you for your reply. We are using Symantec Content Filtering solution wherein we created "Students Profile" where the students cannot alter the Internet Options when using a particular browser. So far, the "Teachers Profile" does not have the same option.

Anyway, it is true that the students could be exposed to inappropriate internet contents if the teacher is browsing the net during school hours. We've equipped our teachers with laptops in carts with projectors so that they can project on the dry erase boards their lessons. But the teachers are to "scrutinize" the site first during lesson planning or they can open a can of worms.

Even corporations are monitoring their employees internet usage. They are prevented from accessing personal emails - and this should be enforce too in all schools. As professionals, we should keep our personal affairs at home.

By allowing the teachers to bring their laptops home, do you provide an agreement that if something happens to the laptop that it will be the teacher's sole responsibility?

I think that even if the teachers have their own HOME LAPTOPS, that schools would not permit them to bring it to school. First of, the school would have to provide the WEP key for them to access wirelessly. Secondly, the teachers might still go online during SCHOOL PAID HOURS. I do not think that this policy will be approved, at least not anytime soon for us.
I agree that there are many benefits to teachers bringing their laptops to school. If the network is configured correctly there are no concerns. We do it.

We have a managed wireless network. We created a guest SSID that is on its own vlan. Through access control lists on our core switch we only allow that vlan access to the internet. This allows teachers to use their own laptops. They only access the internet. We do not have to worry about a virus hitting our servers. We can also manage the internet filter by IP ranges. We have less restrictive filtering on the faculty vlans.

You have to monitor website use. You especially have to be concerned with users who are using bandwidth for non educational purposes. A teacher streaming radio stations could cause problems. Personal email can also cause issues. You have to make sure your firewall is configured correctly. One wrong click can land a botnet virus on a desktop in your school. A botnet will send out millions of emails from that machine. Next thing you know your email domain is on blacklists.

The key is to have your network configured correctly with the correct amount of protection. Vlans, access rules, and proper firewall configuration will allow you to losen the rules and allow faculty to explore available tools.
The issue is not the machine you are on, it's the connectivity access. Even if a teacher brought apersonal computer to school, he/she would not be able to do anything that was blocked by the school's filtering system. Given the hours we put in and the lack of even the time for an off-campus lunch, I think teachers should be able to check their bank balance if they need to during the school day. My district has tight restrictions on student access to sites like Youtube, etc, but recently the restrictions were listed for teacher computers. Now, we can show a relevant video from Youtube to our classes. Likewise, we can access Ning, which is blocked for students, twitter, etc. I would like to see more access for students, especially high school studetns, but that will be awhile coming.
It is certainly the job of a teacher to "protect" the children under his or her own care. What that protection looks like, however, is - I think - of some debate. I support the use of filters in school - as long as there is a a way around it and the teachers are the gatekeepers for that way. But I do not think it is wise to have a filter that is so tight as to restrict shopping websites, etc. I have been in several districts where NetTrekker is the only source of search results. A key 21st century skill is to help students to develop their own internal filter. Let them winnow out what is good and bad - and help them learn to do that. That internal filter is one that will serve them well for a lifetime.
I was a technology coach before I went to work for Discovery and then netTrekker, so my reply here might be a bit biased.
I do agree that a key skill is developing their own internal filter. I love the fact that in netTrekker I can find wikipedia resources and even some controversial material (mainly in high school). And while I find the use of wikipedia beneficial to a 21st Century Learner, I also appreciate the fact that the admins can filter it out if they want to.
Not every website in netTrekker is the right one for the project you're working on now. However, instead of getting Million+ websites you might get 67. It's easier to refine the search to find videos, interactive media, a site a foreign language, etc. It saves me time to only have to go through the 67 and use that refinement system then to go through the million or billion plus. It saves me time in the classroom. They still have to select the right resource.
I have taught my son how to use netTrekker. He's 10 and is not a computer wiz kid, and actually has quite a few learning difficulties. Well the search he wanted to do was not a topic in netTrekker and so we went to a different site. He knew how to conduct the search, how to look at the descriptions, and find the right site for his needs then. The next day, he went back to netTrekker. He liked how easy it was to refine the search and the tools involved.
When I taught 8th grade computers, my students had to do an Excel spreadsheet program with a website about sports salaries from ESPN. We had a lot of coaches who were using that site and not on task in the classroom, so the site had been filtred out. I had to get special permission for it to be turned on during the length of the project and only for the times of my class plus lunch and 30 minutes after school got out. It was a pain. I understood why they were doing it though and learned to bite my tongue.
I do believe in filters, but not because we are the "second-parent" issue. We are their teachers and we should be teaching them how to appropriately search and select results. I had a student searching for cookbooks and was looking for hot recipes. His first three pages included a bombmaker's cookbook. I got called into the principal's office because I allowed the student to search this topic. We had talked about how to conduct an advance search, how to read results, but this child decided to still access those websites and talk about it during the school day. Luckily, I didn't get in trouble. Our IT did for not filtering out bombs, but he didn't lose his job.
Now the part about teachers is tricky. If a teacher could have their own log in and during lunch or their planning they take 5 minutes to find a hotel for an upcoming conference, purchase a professional (or not so professional) book from Amazon, or wants to read email, then I say go for it. After all, that same teacher is more than likely going to take work home with them that is more than what those 5 minutes doing the personal activity was. However, if they can find an employee who abuses it, then talk/counsel that employee. For instance, I know someone in the office of a school that watches Prison Break and other shows on her computer. That's a big no no.
I see both sides of the story.
I agree, but he did. The person over him at the time was very strict. She didn't allow right clicking, paint was to be uninstalled, no card games. She had a list of words. Bombs was one of the words. He was a civil war/history buff and didn't agree with the word. Instead of explaining his reason, he left it off the list.
Oh pleeeze! That is ridiculous--I think if I were young I'd leave a district that did stupid things for stupid reasons. I have almost lost all patience for idiocy.
I actually did leave the district. And she's no longer there. They've made some changes. But they still have no ability to right click, and students do not have Internet access after hours and on weekends. If the school is going to be open for a student program or an after school program, they have to request a different log in for Internet access.
maybe they should have taken the computers out of their building all together - would have solved a lot of "political" issues it sounds like!
According to information received from website users, the ideal school
internet system would -

1) Be WiFi wireless.
Everyone would be able to access the internet anywhere on school
property using their own home laptop.
ID and password access would be used for access control and to monitor
bandwidth usage.
Teacher laptops and projectors used in classroom teaching would be
bluetooth equipped for totally wireless operation.
The school WIFI system would enable at least 1/3 of the school
population to be online at the same time.
School news, events, sports & club activities, homework, curriculum,
etc.. would all be available on a school website.
All textbook materials (lessons, examples, homework, etc..) would be
on a Board/School website for download and printing.
All student personal information (evaluations, marks, grading, etc..)
should be on the School website, available to parents and security
protected.


2) Use a Whitelist (list of accessible websites), instead of a
Blacklist (list of unacceptable websites), to block access to unwanted
websites.
A Gateway Computer would be placed between the modem and router, and
programmed to block out ALL websites, except those on the preapproved
Whitelist.
The Whitelist would not have educationally inappropriate websites such
as adult sites, chatrooms, video/movie downloads, Youtube, Facebook,
etc..
The Whitelist would not have any websites with inappropriate or
annoying popups or excessive advertising.
Teachers would recommend and approve all websites that are placed on
the Whitelist, for their own subject area.
Teachers would not have to monitor what students are viewing, nor have
to police overuse of bandwidth by any individual.


What do you think of this system for your school?
Is there anything that should also have been considered or included?
If any school, college or business has such a system or knows a
company that can provide such a system, please post it here!
Thank you indigo196 for your comments.

1) Perhaps the best solution is actually a hard-wired system - router to laptop to projector.

2) I have been told that a totally wireless wifi school system is very expensive. Of course, it would blanket the school property appropriately depending on usage areas. Do you know of any school that actually has such as system and the cost to give 300 laptops internet access simultaneously?

3) The Board website would include only textbook materials written by Board members for the entire School Board system. There would be no need to ever buy any more textbooks! As changes are made in the curriculum, their no-copyright online textbooks can be immediately updated with no need to wait for or buy the next textbook edition from any publishers. The savings could be used to upgrade other school or Board IT facilities.

4) Blacklists and keyword blocking is not very effective, and image blocking is impossible. Blocking words like "sex" does not block variations like "s e x" or "s3x" or "s*x" etc... or unacceptable images. Only by having teachers preview all allowable websites before whitelisting them can a full and proper control of website access be implemented. If each teacher offered 10 new websites to whitelist each month, after a year across the Board there would be more than enough suitable websites for student use. A Gateway computer can be easily programmed and maintained. Do you know of any school that actually uses the combined blacklist/whitelist system that you mentioned?

5) Teachers must ALWAYS monitor ALL student activity. However, such a system allows a less rigorous and not-constant monitoring of what students are accessing on the internet.

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