The world is a scary place. It’s seemed to become even more so in the past 16 months with the arrival in the world of my one-and-only son, Ben. Young people need protecting from the dangers and perils that we, as adults, either know to avoid or can take somewhat in our stride.

It’s the same online. There’s websites and links I know not to click on as my home Internet connection is unfiltered. At school, however, I’m subject to the same restrictions as pupils, which is annoying. I’m a responsible adult and can navigate to relevant parts of websites for lesson preparation and delivery. There’s no good reason for my having the same level of restricted access as pupils.

I had a discussion a month or two back in which my interlocutor, sounding reasonable at the time, said that wireless Internet access should be opened up to students. It’s filtered, so there shouldn’t be a problem. That’ll be why I keep seeing pupils trying to hide that they’re on Bebo via the newest proxy server to have sprung up, yes? Unless you have a whitelisting system, where the Internet is blocked except for those that are put onto a list, then filtering via blacklisting will never be 100% effective.

But pupils accessing Bebo via a proxy server through the school network is small potatoes compared with what’s about to happen. Here’s the five steps:

  1. Schools allow students to bring in mobile devices that can connect to the Internet, realising that having policies which ban them whilst some teachers promoting their use is problematic.
  2. The cat-and-mouse game of students trying to access blocked sites and administrators blocking them continues.
  3. In the wider world, unlimited mobile broadband data plans become commonplace.
  4. Students from wealthier families start being able to connect to whatever they want, bypassing the school network.
  5. A trickledown and pester-power effect begins; soon most students can access the Internet in this way.

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This is going to cause a HUGE problem. Why? Schools haven’t realised that the only way to have students behaving responsibly online is to teach them how to do so from an early age. We’re going to see reactionary administrators floundering in an attempt try to claw by some type of control, when all along we should have been educating pupils instead of blocking them… :-s

We need to start planning for this eventuality NOW.

Image credit: based on iPorn by jasonEscapist @ Flickr