The iPad and related technologies are ushering in a new teaching paradigm. I can now see many classrooms where both teachers and students use these gadgets for their everyday school work. But since almost everything would be “online” now, we should also take note that it also puts a child and his or her personal information at risk by being susceptible to hacking and similar mischief.
In relation to this, an article (The Top Four Tech Hacks for Teachers) written by GOOD’s education editor Liz Dwyer was particularly disturbing.
In it she encourages teachers to violate the technology policies in place at their schools if they disagree with them or find them restrictive. Rather than encouraging teachers to discuss why they feel the need to integrate Google+ or Twitter into the classroom, perhaps leading to a policy exception or even a change in the policy, Dwyer encourages teachers to take matters into their own hands. To circumvent mobile device management, Mac/PC management, and Internet filtering, she offers four suggestions – all of which would be successful in the majority of public schools.
- Purchase a private VPN connection that can tunnel past a school’s firewall and provide unrestricted Internet access.
- Purchase a USB 3G/4G network dongle from a mobile carrier and the associated data plan for use with a school-owned or personal computer in the classroom. She eagerly points out that Mac users can share this connection with Wi-Fi-enabled computers and devices nearby using OS X’s Internet Sharing feature.
- Purchase a personalhotspot device from a mobile carrier, which provides the same benefits as a USB dongle.
- Use a free ad-supported VPN app for Macs and iOS devices that masks a user’s Internet access history.
At the end of the article, she tells teachers that they’re responsible if they follow her suggestions.
“Yes, some of these methods may be questionable or outright banned by your local school district. Proceed at your own risk because, ahem, we aren’t liable if you get busted.”
What she fails to mention is that these practices may violate laws, could lead to teacher dismissal, and could result in a school losing state and federal funding. If a child or a child’s personal information is put at risk, the teacher and the school could face civil and criminal action. Less dramatic, but possibly more important, it sends a very inappropriate message to kids to see a teacher breaking the rules.
School technology policies exist to protect everyone on campus including students, teachers, administrators, and IT staff. These policies teach students what acceptable behavior is and how to protect themselves in the online world.
As the classroom adapts the increasingly mobile and digital reality, one of the challenges of 21st century education is determining the appropriate ways to use these new and advancing technologies in the classroom. Figuring out the best and safest ways to use these technologies isn’t going to happen overnight and would require an ongoing process of discussion. Skipping over that discussion isn’t going to help things along.
*credits to Cult of Mac