School Planning and Management, July 1998, p. 35

Two challenges face educators who bring the Internet into classrooms: ensuring that students can find quality content, and protecting them against harmful or inappropriate material.

Terry Hitchcock identifies and evaluates the pros and cons of four popular methods to help meet these challenges:

  1. Acceptable Use Policies: Good because students can have unfettered access to the Internet and are entrusted to use their own good judgment. Bad because such policies require enforcement, cannot prevent accidental viewings of inappropriate material, and don’t locate quality material.

  2. Voluntary Self-Rating Systems: Good because students have broad Internet access, and the system is easy to set up. Bad because a voluntary system means that many inappropriate sites won’t have been rated, and hence can be accessed by students.

  3. Blocking/Filtering: Good because most harmful sites can be blocked. Bad because some filtering software can be difficult to maintain, can be fooled by graphics or unorthodox spellings, and can inadvertently block relevant sites.

  4. “Inclusion Solutions” (web sites that link to pre-screened content a reviewer has deemed unobjectionable and of high quality): Good because students access only reviewed and approved materials and save time. Bad because students aren’t entrusted with full access to the Internet.