Written by Shaun Brooker
So you have WIFI, a good Internet connection and are thinking that you are going to ask students to bring devices! After all every other school seems to be doing it.
BUT, what are the key considerations that need to be made when introducing devices into the school environment.
The are many MUSTS including good planning/purpose, solid infrastructure and importantly security and safety.
Nothing kills parents confidence in blended learning more than when students stumble (deliberately or not) across questionable material on the Internet at school. In my mimd It is imperative that the school has a handle on three basic areas of Internet security.
- Filtering. Schools need to have confidence that the material that comes into the school environment through the Internet is safe and suitable for students of all ages. The only way to stay on top of this is to test, test and then test some more. Search for all the objectionable content you (and others) can think of, if you don't do it a student will! It is not a very glamorous job but it is way better to have a teacher find something objectionable than having to deal with a parent whose child has seen it first!
- Monitoring. Schools need to be able to monitor Internet traffic on two fronts, student by student and general traffic. When (not if, depending on the quality of your filtering) you have the unsavoury experience of following up with allegations that a student has been in the wrong place on the Internet.
- Alerts. The best way to deal with breaches in your Internet is to deal with them before they happen. If systems a in place that allow you to receive alerts when searches are attempted of a specific nature you get a chance to head mislead students off at the pass. Reality is if 99% of people of breach Internet security at a school do so by making multiple mistakes. Knowing who is trying what and when is a huge key to school internet security success.
I heard someone talk about the Internet as the city. It is a great place with many good places for our children to visit. However you would not let them loose without some guidelines and safety backstops in place. Nobody plans a field trip without conducting some sort of safety audit first. Providing the Internet for students at school is one massive, ongoing field trip. The safety audit needs to be dynamic and ongoing.