Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Tools for Learning: Safety, Security, and Access

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Tools for Learning: Safety, Security, and Access

Article excerpt


Juliet's parents didn't want her to marry Romeo, but what can you do? Parents and educators have a natural inclination to protect and nurture the children and students that are our future. But here's an age-old question that must be applied to a new age of technology-enabled openness: How much protecting is too much? And, going further, if our students are completely isolated from the benefits of the information age, how will they ever learn?

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the internet isn't just a near-ubiquitous technology in the lives of American teens--it's also their primary tool for conducting school research. Ninety-four percent of teens use the internet at least occasionally to do research for their school writing assignments and nearly half (48%) do so once a week or more ("Writing, Technology and Teens," 2008). They also surpass older groups in internet use--93% go online to use the internet or email and 63% do so daily ("Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults," 2010).

What's more, they continue to be avid users of social media networking sites. As of September 2009, 73% of online American teens (ages 12--17) used an online social networking site, a statistic that continues to climb upward from 55% (November 2006) to 65% (February 2008). But here's the real kicker: Nearly half (49%) of social networking teens use these sites to make new friends. That is to say, they connect with people they do not currently know in person ("Teens and Online Stranger Contact," 2007). How, then, can our students stay safe and secure while simultaneously getting access to rich learning resources--and continue to fall in love with learning?


Sometimes the best security is a strong fortress. With many districts feeling a stranglehold on their budgets, getting a single, safe network solution with multiple features is a very attractive prospect. Lightspeed Systems, with its tagline, "Network solutions for safe online learning," offers network security and management software as well as hardware for schools and districts. Its Total Traffic Control software offers a full range of network security and management features including antivirus, spam-blocking, web filtering, mobile filtering, and bandwidth management. The cost-effectiveness of a single, consolidated solution with a single price per workstation trumps many other partial solutions out there. The company has an established team of industry veterans with deep experience in technology and education, and they have been around in these areas for much longer than the 10 years since this company was founded. Their software is used in more than 1,000 school districts protecting more than 5 million students and has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing private companies.


ePals LearningSpace is a controlled, flexible online workspace providing administrators with the ability to manage and monitor social media use throughout their school system. The service provides teachers, media specialists, and administrators with visibility and control over how their blogs, wikis, digital lockers, and forums are used. It also enables the use of best-of-breed security technologies including monitoring, language filtering, and role-based permissions tools. ePals has a global community of about 600,000 educators and their students in more than 200 countries and territories. Its LearningSpace helps students and teachers to create, share, manage, and collaborate on educational content in a purposeful, project-based, and controlled learning environment. Educators can create and manage groups and subgroups with role-based permissions on one centralized platform. All of this is intuitive and requires minimal training, if any. …

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