A new study by the Bertlesmann Foundation has identified four keys to successful oversight of computer use in schools:

  1. Media competence by all users. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents must understand the moral and legal implications of using computers. Teachers should be trained in these issues and shown how to imbue this information in their students.

  2. Clear codes of conduct. Students must know which activities they are permitted to engage in on computers–and which they may not. Simplified and general “netiquette” codes are not sufficient. These codes must be explained through a dialogue that continues through a student’s career.

  3. Technical control. Filtering systems can help ensure students’ access to appropriate materials. In addition, students should be expected to police themselves and their peers even when filtering systems are not working properly or a school chooses not to use them. Some schools consider customizing this software to allow different types of access for different students, based on parent permission.

  4. Penalties and sanctions. As with the code of conduct, these must be clear and should be communicated consistently.