As if it isn’t hard enough already for students to pry their eyes away from their phones, it’ll be harder at the end of May when NEISD will provide a free “guest” wireless connection, open to all students and faculty. The goal of the new Wi-Fi is so students can connect to the Internet with their phones or tablets and use the web for educational purposes. However, the skepticism over what an “educational purpose” is and if students will abuse this new power will be a concern for teachers and administrators.
“The educational bond passes will now allow for the funding of the new guest Wi-Fi service for students,” Instructional Technical Specialist Mr. Belford said. “It will help alleviate the traffic on the NEISD wireless and now, if the internet is accessed properly by students, it will benefit teachers in the classrooms.”
Now that the school will have free Wi-Fi students will wonder if they can get on Facebook or Instagram, and the answer is still no; the Guest Wireless will still be filtered so students can’t Tumble or Tweet or post while they’re using the Wi-Fi.
“Students need to act as though they are in a Starbucks or McDonalds; anywhere there is a public Wi-Fi it is open to anyones device, which means that students phones are subject to whatever malware is introduced through another users phone,” Mr. Belford said. “But [the firewall] is running and there will be a lot of security in place from NEISD. I would suggest students still have a good antivirus program running on their devices if they do choose to use the Wifi.”
“It’s an exciting time for teachers,” Mr. Belford said. “Teachers will be able to harness this technology for use in the classroom and teach the lessons in class but still allow students to re-teach themselves the lessons at home while doing homework. Services such as Google Drive and Dropbox will allow teachers to expand the resources available to students and the students will be able to access this knowledge much easier.”
Although, the concern of the technology being used for real educational purposes is a problem that teachers will have to battle head on. Teachers will now be evaluated on a separate category in their evaluations on the incorporation of technology in the classrooms, meaning that students will have to cooperate with the terms of using the Wifi for “educational” purposes.
“The school will be receiving 300 new iPads and upgrading to the Windows 7 Operating System, along with SMART Boards in every classroom,” Mr. Belford said. “However teachers will need to overcome the idea that everything is being moved to an “online” resource: the school is not yet ready to become wireless and there is still a lot of value to pen and paper work. Teachers should not look at this new Wireless network to be opening Pandora’s Box to students, rather that is it opening opportunity for teachers to teach.”