When schools around the country began to distribute computers, laptops, and/or tablets to their students, McNick decided to join this move toward a more technology-based curriculum in 2011. Although this has been beneficial to many students’ educations, a sour note has intruded on the concept of tablet use in schools, and that is website filtering.
Through the years of having tablets in the classroom, distraction has been a major concern. The technology department has blocked websites that have potential to be a distraction in the classroom, and even to protect students from bullying and harassment at school through social media sites. Social media is not necessary when studying for a Chemistry test but students have complained about not having access to these webpages. Senior Lauren Henry said, “I do not think websites should be blocked. I think that it is the student’s responsibility to stay on top of their work in class and teachers should block them if they feel necessary, but having websites completely blocked does not really help anything. ”
Although the blocks can be frustrating to some students because it hinders access to the multimedia world, tablets are strictly for educational use only. “The criteria for blocking entails any adult content, drugs, weapons, gambling, gaming and social media,” said Mr. Andy Ey, Director of Technology. “Students have their freedom within reason while using their tablets at school and that was discussed during the first day of tablet training.” It is arguable that students need to research some of these topics that are blocked for school related purposes but the library contains databases that include the necessary information students need to research.
Aside from social media, the music and video streaming sites Pandora and Netflix are also blocked. Although this can be argued as being used for educational purposes, it is unreasonable to use these websites because of the large bandwidth. A school with nearly 700 people using streaming websites can crash the server and cause other problems with the system.
The “help desk people” are not out to get students in any way; there is reasoning behind this heavy filtering and it is beneficial to the student body for safety and to keep them on track. “Content filters are not meant to limit the use of the internet which can be very education but more to keep you safe while online,” Ey added.