Just three years ago, I vividly recall students and faculty alike complaining about being unable to access harmless, legitimate web sites. This grievance is all too familiar with technology departments across the nation, grappling with trying to promote web-based learning while guarding against viruses and harmful, inflammatory content.
With the increased popularity of tethering, which provides computer web access via mobile devices, more and more people are bypassing school servers altogether. Depending on one’s carrier plan, this feature remains relatively expensive—but for many, the ability to freely surf the net is well worth the added expense.
Either way, it’s only a matter of time before tethering becomes significantly more affordable, especially if this technology hopes to compete with 3G and 4G tablets. iPads and knock-off clones already offer unfettered web access, so long as users have decent cell reception or are within Wi-Fi hotspot distance.
It is utterly naïve to think that any enforcement strategy will have any significant impact on preventing students from gaining unrestricted web access.
As far as education is concerned, information technology is facing an identity crisis. Much of what these hard working individuals do involves providing restricted Internet access and caring for a local network. It is utterly naïve to think that any enforcement strategy will have any significant impact on preventing students from gaining unrestricted web access.
Technology departments should spend significantly less time and money in an increasingly futile effort to restrict web access. Instead, they should really think about how to educate the ethical and proper use of the Internet. Without question, each school should create its own strategic plan on how to best tackle this challenge.
I’m not blind to the myriad of legal and liability concerns that come with this difficult step, especially with younger children. I don’t have all of the answers or know of any ideal solution. At the same time, continuing to invest in local networks and content blocking software is not the answer.