The Montana techs have been discussing their school’s wireless access policy. So far the sample is rather small but the general approach seems to be a guest network and a staff network. The guest network is for students and is rather limited. There is also variability as to the use of student devices; laptops are OK, iPads and the like are not OK and so on. Due to a very limited budget my school has implemented the simplest possible wireless system; I plugged in some cheap Linksys wireless routers into the system and left it at that. I am not too worried about the neighbors using up the band width; our old building barely lets the signal go in the next classroom and is almost undetectable outside the building. This system works because I may have a maximum of 10 laptops on the system at once. This is a stop-gap solution but it does fit with my philosophy of wireless access; anybody, any time, any gadget. The internet access does go through my content and anti-virus filter so we are still only allowing the same internet access that the regular student lab computers have. I do worry about someone infecting our system from the inside but all of our computers have a local anti-virus product so I am hoping that will keep us secure.
Restricting a student’s access to the internet at school seems to me to be a really bad idea. These kids future will be dependent on the internet. The school should be teaching internet use, not restricting it. Our technology courses should be offering a lesson on “How to get the most out of your cell phone” – to 3rd graders. Every student should have access to the internet all the time, be it in class, in the hall, at lunch, whenever they need it. This is what they will encounter in the higher tech level job market. There are bound to be issues with an open wireless system but they need to be recognized and solved, not put off until next year.