Monday, October 11, 2010

5 Considerations for Allowing Students to Use Personal Computing Devices on School Wireless Networks

For the past month, I have been working on trying to develop a procedure to govern student use of personal computers when accessing our wireless Internet. In times of shrinking budgets, we just don’t have enough technology, so we decided that providing students with wireless Internet access for their own personal computers was a means increase total student access to Web resources.

I initially turned to the web to find other schools with wireless access policies and procedures. After examining the procedures and policies of several of these schools, I found that they all contained common components. These 5 common components are vital to any wireless access policy for a school.

Technical Requirements for Access

One common component for a wireless access policy are guidelines specifying what technical requirements each personal computer should have. The two most common are:

  • Un-expired and functioning Anti-virus protection
  • Wireless Network Access Card with Statement That Prohibits Connecting by Cables

Most schools required working anti-virus in order to prevent network infections, and a wireless card for access. By allowing only wireless access, it protects the integrity of the main school network.

General Guidelines for Use of Wireless Access

Guidelines are needed to ensure that students understand that their use of computers and devices are welcome, but that the teacher and instruction drives that use. Some guidelines to include are:

  • Clear Statement That Use of Computer or Device Is at Teacher’s Discretion
  • Use of Computer or Device Must Support Instructional Activities
  • Use of Computer or Device Must Not Be Disruptive to Other’s Learning
  • Use of Computer or Device Must Be In Supervised Area of School
  • Students Must Have Signed an Acceptable Use Policy
  • Students Are Prohibited from Accessing Other Network Resources Other Than Internet

Consequences for Failure to Follow Guidelines

Only some of the procedures and policies I examined included consequences. These issues are often addressed in a school’s acceptable use policy, but consequences often involve some kind of restriction regarding the student’s continued use of the device.

Procedures for Gaining Wireless Access

Another important component for the wireless access policy are the procedures that must be followed to obtain that access. Usually these procedures involve the following components:

  • Submitting a Request Form of Some Sort
  • Submitting the Device for Inspection and for Recording Device Identification Such as Serial Numbers and/or MAC Address


It is important to include disclaimers in the policy or procedure as well. These disclaimers should make clear the following:

  • Wireless access is for Internet only.
  • School technology department is not permitted by regulation to provide technical support for personal computers.
  • School does not assume responsibility for damage or loss of these computers or devices.

When trying to set up a wireless access procedure or policy, it is vital that the integrity of the school network be sustained, protections are put in place to ensure proper use of network resources, consequences are outlined for subsequent violations of user agreements, procedures developed for obtaining access, and disclaimers are detailed to make it clear the school is not responsible for damage or loss.

Should anyone wish to see a copy of our procedure, just send me an email at and I will be glad to get it to you.

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