While school adminstrators and teachers are understandably concerned about students’ temptation to use classroom and library internet connections to visit prohibited sites, the authors warn there are many other types of student and teacher activities that can land administrators in trouble. Filtering software to stop access to pornographic or violent sites is not enough; a full plan for internet use must take into account a range of potentially harmful activities, and prohibitions on these activities must be clearly spelled out for all users.
For example, an enterprising student may be using the school’s computer to sell items online. Is this acceptableand who is liable for the many issues involved in any commercial transaction gone awry?
Or a teacher may be using his or her eMail for personal matters that interfere with the educational goals of the institution. A teacher sending eMails filled with personal photographs to her friends may be using up a great deal of network storage capacity, the authors say.
Unfortunately, the federal and state governments have not yet created very detailed templates for administrators to use in crafting a computer-use policy, the authors note. Schools should create a policy and supplement it with content-filtering and firewall software to protect from intruders. Schools should also remind students and staff of the very public nature of all eMail communications and web surfing.