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How to give pupils and teachers the internet access they need?

28/09/2011

This is a bit off topic for me but I’ve been following a twitter consultation #eduscotict which aims to improve education by using ICT resources in learning. I’m following it because I use this technology to support ex-offenders and recovering drug users to help them manage the chaos out of their lives. The schools are doing a great job and there are some fantastic ideas being developed by teachers which are transferable for me.

It’s a fascinating debate but the teachers keep saying that they can’t access the resources which will add value in the classroom because of firewall restrictions.

It’s a complicated conflict of interest. On one hand teachers need access to a plethora of open source tools and web 2.0 apps which would never be made available on a corporate network, yet alone an environment where pupil data is held.

We know that information security threats have grown exponentially in tandem with the very Web 2.0 applications that the teachers want to use and we also know that social engineering, malware and the internet are within the sex-offender modus operandi.

I do want my kids to have access to the best online learning resources but I clearly don’t want their data to be accessed on malware ridden systems or on dodgy cloud-based apps.

So how do we square all of this? I’m no expert on the firewall infrastructure which schools use and I suspect that it’s a hotchpotch of tools which may be inconsistent between local schools, yet alone between 32 local authorities.

One thing for sure is that there won’t be a lot of money available but there are solutions which don’t need to cost the earth.

Here’s a simple suggestion to be shot down. It might not be practical but it’s a starter for 10.

Smartboard pc’s could be set up on a separate subnet (DMZ) where they can access any resources that the teacher deems fit but under no circumstances can personal data be stored or accessed from them. Doing so would be a dereliction of duty.

It’s not rocket science but this design would also allow the maintenance of smartboard tools to be more easily outsourced.

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From → education

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