Maximizing Classroom Online Security
Sometimes we rely a little too much on the technology we all love to solve the problems that technology caused. We think the district’s filters will keep kids from accessing inappropriate material (they won’t). We think reporting and tracking will tell us the latest tricks the kids have picked up (maybe, but by then they’ve moved onto something else).
Perhaps, especially in the case of the teachers, we should take a more common sense, humanist approach. Here are some things you can do to maximize the online security of your classroom without having to become a hacker yourself.
Talk to some kids
Good luck getting the students to spill their secrets. Even the teacher’s pet doesn’t want to be a rat. So the best way to find out what’s hot (and therefore probably inappropriate) online, ask some kids that don’t have a vested interest in keeping the wool over your eyes.
You can try your own kids, nieces and nephews, or the children of a friend. They shouldn’t care what goes on in your classroom. You should be particularly interested in ways they get around security to access inappropriate material. And make sure to check with them regularly; things change on the internet constantly.
This might be common sense, but you have no idea how many teachers interpret technology time as a way to take some time for themselves. If a student is on a device, they should expect you to look over their shoulder multiple times.
Another key point here is to not avoid confrontation by waiting for the district or school’s technology people to run a report. If you see something, say something. Then write the report to administration and the tech people.
Make your own acceptable use policy
School and district acceptable use policies are usually comprehensive. They might even be stricter than you would like. But only you know what is best for your classroom, including what can be considered appropriate when it comes to technology.
Check with your administrator, then take a stab at authoring your own policy and distribute it to the students at the beginning of the course. Have both the students and their parents sign it. It might not be legally binding, but it lets everyone know what is expected so that if those expectations aren’t met, they can anticipate some consequences.