Saturday, September 18, 2010

8 Things to Consider When Considering Wireless Access for Your Students

This past week, our school district looked closely at the idea of allowing our school to experiment with opening our wireless network so that students can access the Internet with their personal laptops. Naturally, there is a great deal of uncertainty and fear when school systems and administrators decide to let go of some control of technological resources. But the reality is, and most of us realized this, with the continued proliferation of 3G phones and portable wireless hotspots, we are really losing the battle for control anyway. Our discussion focused on moving from trying to control technology to guiding our students to be proper digital citizens and consumer of technological resources.

In preparation of that meeting, I tried to think about all the issues and concerns administrators and our technology department might have about opening up our wireless network so that students can access with their personal devices. Here’s the list I came up with.

  • Classroom Problems Such as Off-Task Behaviors and Class Disruptions
  • Security of Personal Property
  • Threats to the Network by Malware and Viruses
  • Students and Staff Accessing Inappropriate Content
  • Students Using the Devices in Inappropriate Ways
    • Transmission or Creation of Unacceptable Content
    • Posting or Making Personal Information on Web
    • Cyberbullying
    • Plagiarism and Copyright Violations
    • Using Devices to Engage in Academic Dishonesty
    • Downloading and Using Illegal Software
  • Network Threats Such as Hacking or Unauthorized Access
  • Maintenance and Support of Personal Devices
  • Search and Seizure Issues

Each and everyone of these is a legitimate concern, but it is amazing how many of these concerns melt away upon closer examination, and with the realization that by actually opening network access to students, we have an excellent opportunity to both lower our technology costs and really take seriously the job of making our students better digital citizens.

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