Having used GenavaLogic Vision for several years, I have to say that Drew's last sentence does not reflect my experience. There are sometimes ways students can circumvent monitoring software, usually due to some bug in the software. The quick solution to that is quite simple; tell the kid point blank not to do it again, then tell him to reboot his computer. If necessary, ask the student just to shut his computer off and look on with his neighbor (that really gets their attention). If that doesn't work to control the behavior, you've probably got much bigger problems as a teacher.
The really interesting thing is how many times students will ask me to use the monitoring software to send the projected screen out to their computers. We use it whenever we're doing presentations or lessons. Students can either look up at a projected image or view the screen right on their display. Like assistive audio technologies, bringing the visual display closer to the person helps to hold their interest and can enhance learning. The fact that you can keep the student from "multitasking" with the computer should be secondary to the educational enhancement this technology offers.
If you rely on classroom monitoring software to manage your students, or to try to hold their attention through an hour-long lecture, you will almost certainly lose the battle for their hearts and minds. However, it can be a very powerful tool that can be used to improve attention and enhance student learning. Just like a projection system and interactive whiteboard, it's a tool that you'll miss, once you've mastered its use.
As far as the original article is concerned, it's nothing new to people in schools that some students find ways to get around school Internet filters. It's been my observation that most students who do this are acting as "script kiddies," merely following step-by-step procedures someone else has shown them, with only a vague understanding how the procedure works. They have strong incentives for doing this, primarily the perceived enhancement in their social status when they can get by the rules. There's certainly nothing new in that. Teachers are too busy, too interested in maintaining order, and generally too honest to be interested in learning how to get around filters; not to mention the fact that they don't want to put their jobs in jeopardy.
The issue isn't really that filters do more harm than good, as this genre of article always seems to imply. Fact is, filters can do a lot of good for most students, are expected by most communities, required by some federal rules, and can help to divert some legal liability. Certainly, the constraints on student access often come at an intellectual cost, but this is something a good filtering policy can help the school address. To address the problem of teacher access, South Burlington has decided to remove most filters from teacher Internet use. We piloted this with YouTube last year and the plan is to extend this to most Internet access this coming year. Obviously, this increases the need for teachers to be careful about passwords and student access to their accounts, but this far the pilot has worked well.
South Burlington High School
From: School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Drew Blanchard
Sent: Mon 7/13/2009 8:34 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: School Filters op ed
Seems like common sense.
Which is why the federal government will still require filters...
I've used SMART's Synchroneyes with limited success. Allows real-time
thumbnail images of all computers in a workgroup, but it's a Windows
only application. Monitoring software is still easy for students to
work around, and unless someone wants to babysit at the keyboard instead
of actually teaching, it's not very useful. Good in theory, awkward in
Shannon Walters wrote:
> Interesting article regarding school internet filters in this Washington Post oped.
> What do you think?
> Shannon Walters
> Library Media Specialist
> C.P. Smith School
> Burlington, Vermont 05408
> [log in to unmask]
> (802) 864-2228