One point that Chase specifically mentioned as important was “Keeping user profiles limited so that software cannot be installed and the continual monitoring of files and emails for inappropriate content.” There is, however, an unfortunate side effect to this monitoring. Legitimate and useful sites are also being blocked to both student and teachers of the Phoenix Elementary School District (PESD). In the United States, Kindergarten-12th grade schools are required by law to add filters to blocks sites obscene and harmful to minors. This requirement comes from a federal law enacted by congress called the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). This law is indeed important for the safety of children at school. However, it only requires that there is sufficient monitoring it does not specify what specific sites should be monitored. Therefore it is up to the school to decide.
An example of a possibly legitimate site that is currently being blocked by PESD and many other schools is YouTube. This is blocked for both teachers and students. YouTube contains helpful how-to videos, current events, and educational content that could prove a valuable asset. While it is true that offensive content can be found on YouTube, we submit that at least the teachers should have access to YouTube, web 2.0, and other legitimate sites. They should also be able to grant access to their students on a case-by-case basis.
If the technology department does not feel like the teachers are educated enough to be in charge of their students’ and their own online safety, it would be a good idea to provide online safety training for the teachers. Because online threats are always changing and growing, this training should be given at least yearly.
Another issue that Chase mentioned was that cost was a barrier to purchasing software. A possible solution to this problem is utilizing free and open source software alternatives. A great resource is http://osalt.com (open source as alternative). This site provides open source alternatives to commercial software. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on Adobe Photoshop to edit photographs, students can...