In addition, assigning multiple accounts for each student or a small group of students, creates problems in its own right. Personal and/or small group accounts prevent careful teacher supervision, which is necessary to keep the students on-task (and to some extent, out of trouble). Multiple accounts also may bog down a school's networking ability, making Internet use more difficult and costly to use. But a more personalized system of student email allows each student to develop her own 'style' of networking (different IRC's, keypals, listserv groups, etc.) A personalized account also facilitates networking from home, assuming the account is readily accessible by modem. And while at-home networking allows students to become even more adept at computing, the skills of those who have outside access to the net surpass that of those who do not. At-home networking supervision must also be considered.
Finally, how do we deal with questionable and 'indecent' materials students may easily find on-line? As the media has reminded us in recent months, certain parts of the Internet are inappropriate, to put it mildly, for classroom use. Yet the positive side of the Internet far outweighs the bad, as any experienced educational netsurfer would testify. How do we balance the interest of allowing student access to the Internet with protecting students from indecency. And who is to say what is indecent in the first place?
Stay tuned to EdWeb for an in-depth look at the issues of how fears of cyberporn are damaging the Internet's potential as an educational tool, and what can be done to alleviate some of our concerns.