Browsing For a Solution

Browsing For a Solution

If you ask any student what annoys them the most about Iola High School, they might say the Internet filter. USD 257 has switched filters multiple times. And now, with Lightspeed, many seemingly harmless websites are blocked for no apparent reason. (Case in point, try poetsforum.com and or techsupportforums.com.)

Not only are some websites blocked for no reason, but the filter is also extremely inconsistent in its application. Websites of the same type specializing in the same subject are randomly blocked. Also, under the education filter of YouTube, both teachers and students can have a difficult time finding the videos they want for their class because so many are blocked. There are random holes and random blocked sections, making the whole of YouTube a bit like a piece of swiss cheese.

The filters have a justified purpose. Many websites that are blocked should be blocked — Facebook and certain parts of YouTube included. These and other social-networking and entertainment-driven sites waste time and detract from a student’s learning experience. However, some should be allowed under learning circumstances, and there should be a way for students to apply to have certain problem websites approved and unblocked.

We suggest the creation of an approval system on the school website. A “website approval” tab could be added to the USD 257 home page, and students could apply for a website to be whitelisted or unblocked altogether based on the information they provide about the website. The submission could go before a technology committee for approval, and the student could get a confirmation email that a selected website had been unblocked.

Although the filter is good, it isn’t perfect, and creating a help-desk-style request system could be one of the ways to make it better.