Sábado, 29/4/2017 | : : UTC-4
The Reflection

The problem behind school website restrictions

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The screen students will see if they go onto a website blocked by the school. Photo courtesy of Tyler Grosser

Whether or not one personally enjoys the Chromebooks given to students this school year, it’s hard to argue that they aren’t useful. They have allowed teachers to transition easily from a cumbersome amount of books and physical homework to the easier, online versions. It helps organization for both students and teachers and overall makes school life just a little bit more bearable.

However, what can be argued is how banning certain websites is more harmful to the student body than helpful. This was an issue with the iPads, but now it’s much more obnoxious as the Chromebooks have been involved with much more school work than the iPads ever were.

If one were to take a look at at the laundry list of websites blocked by the school, he or she would easily see why. Most sites are blocked due to the material as a disturbance to the learning process, such as websites that have nothing but games.

Another obvious category is the websites that teachers don’t trust or want their students to rely on such as Sparknotes and Wikipedia. This is where the real problem lies. The last two websites mentioned, Sparknotes and Wikipedia, are considered untrustworthy by teachers, but they aren’t actually blocked by the school. Anyone on a school Chromebook on school wifi can access those sites right now and jot down any and all information they find. This allows students to find quick answers to assignments and reports without having to rely on source information. Essentially making a majority of assignments in English classes, or classes related to them, to be considered a joke as they can be answered without having to read the assignment reading material or using what was being taught in the class. Knowing this begs the question, what qualifies a website to be banned by the school?

Yes, the majority of the blocked websites are ones that have little to do with the educational process. Games, sports related websites, chat programs and similar applications and websites are all on lockdown and for a good reason. But then they go ahead and ban websites like Yahoo Answers while equally untrustworthy websites like Wikipedia get to run free.

It’s frustrating as a lot of banned sites aren’t actually that bad or are ironically much more educational than what isn’t banned. Administration has banned pages such as teacher blogs that relay important information about a class and even the Richland Library at one point in time. At this point, it’s not hard to interpret their system as a complete joke when contrasting the ones blocked with those that aren’t.

The solution is clear, verify with teachers about the websites or similar kinds that they use in class, so it doesn’t impede on their lessons or the student’s work. It might take more time than just banning based off of keywords or general topics, but it will mean a lot more in the future for the benefit of the students.


Tyler Grosser
About

My name is Tyler Grosser, a junior at Gull Lake High School and the Feature and Entertainment editor for the Gull Lake Reflection. Most of the articles I do for the site are reviews and the occasional feature story but I'm always willing to take whatever I can to help get the word out for what's happening in our district. I plan to take my interest in journalism into college and possibly even longer as a career.

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