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Rock Street, San Francisco

Working as both a systems administrator and engineer in a school I see the direct effect of the internet every day. Access to information gets easier all the time and the amount of content that resides, quite literally in your pocket, is staggering. The internet is a wonderful thing for research, learning, and cooperation but can also be a tempting way to cut corners or ignore responsibilities. Originally, a large portion of my job involved limiting access to both compromising and unproductive content on the internet. This involved filtering and monitoring student web traffic, but the web is an extremely large place and it is impossible to make it entirely safe. I often debate whether or not the services I provide are bringing opportunity to students, or just allowing bad habits to form. Internet access is considered a necessity by most and can be a productive resource, but when you cannot ensure safe access, should it still be available at all? If there is a possibility that a student can get access to morally wrong and unsafe content should that still be made available? That question is one I often think about but cannot make a decision on. I don’t believe the internet is a bad thing, even for children but it is definitely something that needs more attention to make safe and accountable. At the same time, if the school was not offering access which was at the very least monitored, would even worse behavior surface at home or on personal devices?Chromebooks are becoming commonplace in schools because of their ability to replace the multitude of materials students used to need to maintain by making notes, research, books, lectures, and assignment all available in one place. Giving a student a computer that also has access to things like games, videos, and forums, however, also makes it a facilitator for bad behavior. It is hard to tell when a powerful resource for learning becomes a distraction and a hindrance. Making learning easier for students who may have difficulty is a great thing, and putting as many resources as possible in front of them is a necessity. The issue arises when another student ignores those resources and instead wastes time and ignores their education. Do we still have to treat students equally, or is their access a privilege? Is it right to take away resources from a student who may need them more than ever when they simply don’t want to learn?

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