In an earlier post, entitled “Giving Students Wireless Access to Use Personal Computing Devices,” I described our procedure for providing wireless access for students to use their own personal computing devices. Our school has been experimenting with providing our students with WiFi for about three weeks now. All around our school and in our classes students are using their own laptops, netbooks, and smartphones to access the Internet for instructional purposes. The early reports from my staff are things are going fairly well, but we have learned a few things early. Here are some suggestions based on our experiences:
1. Assign one staff member to be the administrator of your wireless access process. One of the teachers in our school agreed to take on that responsibility. That has made giving students wireless access seamless and non-problematic. Students now know that if they want to access, there is one contact person to inspect their computers for anti-virus protection, record their Mac address, and provide them with their password and username.
2. Expect there to be minor connectivity issues. As with any new process there will be glitches, and some of them will be technology-based. For example, our network automatically logs off users when their user account has been inactive for 10 minutes. We are currently exploring settings and options to address this issue. We expect there to be other technological and procedural glitches in the coming weeks, but so far giving students the access has outweighed the problems.
3. Students appreciate having access so much, they appear to be less likely to abuse the privilege. One of the greatest worries by administrators is that students will somehow abuse their new freedom. So far, it appears our students enjoy having the access, and that means they are less likely to engage in accessing web sites not permitted. For example, it was reported to me that one student admonished another to not use proxies while using his computer. His words were, “They have my computer’s Mac address, so they can trace it back to me, so don’t use proxies.”
As we continue with our implementation of our student wireless access procedure, I am positive we will learn more in the coming weeks, and I am not naïve enough to believe that we will not have a student abuse the privilege. Nevertheless, I believe firmly that providing our students wireless access is a step toward the 21st century.
Note: Earlier, I offered to send to those who were interested, copies of our procedure for providing wireless access for our students. Many have emailed me asking for an electronic copy. I will be glad to send anyone a copy if you will email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.