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What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the the-less-you-know dept.

Education 1117

An anonymous reader writes "We're a school district in the beginning phases of a laptop program which has the eventual goal of putting a Macbook in the hands of every student from 6th to 12th grade. The students will essentially own the computers, are expected to take them home every night, and will be able to purchase the laptops for a nominal fee upon graduation. Here's the dilemma — how much freedom do you give to students? The state mandates web filtering on all machines. However, there is some flexibility on exactly what should be filtered. Are things like Facebook and Myspace a legitimate use of a school computer? What about games, forums, or blogs, all of which could be educational, distracting or obscene? We also have the ability to monitor any machine remotely, lock the machine down at certain hours, prevent the installation of any software by the user, and prevent the use of iChat. How far do we take this? While on one hand we need to avoid legal problems and irresponsible behavior, there's a danger of going so far to minimize liability that we make the tool nearly useless. Equally concerning is the message sent to the students. Will a perceived lack of trust cripple the effectiveness of the program?"

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1117 comments

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none (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26153971)

don't be a nazi.

Re:none (5, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154367)

That's a great way to prepare them for the real world, isn't it, where corporate computers are locked down pretty hard. I think a better idea would be to survey some companies (larger ones with as many or more employees as there are students) in the local area and average out their practices.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26153973)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

frosty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26153975)

piss, frosty piss.

Re:frosty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154317)

What the fuck is with all the trolls lately?

No offense... (5, Insightful)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26153983)

We also have the ability to monitor any machine remotely, lock the machine down at certain hours, prevent the installation of any software by the user, and prevent the use of iChat.

No offense or anything, but I wouldn't touch one of those with a 10 foot pole with those restrictions, especially with the "monitor any machine remotely" part.

And even if the kids don't mind... (4, Interesting)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154219)

(I apologize for responding to my own comment, but this whole monitoring thing really gets to me.)

I can see how you'd want to make sure to block bad content for the kids, especially to maybe protect you from lawsuits of some kind (IANAL), but you can have filters and whatnot set up without this remote monitoring stuff.

But lets say that the kids didn't mind people seeing what they did on these machines; how do you think the parents would feel about someone being able to spy on their kid that extensively? I really don't see that going over well at all...

Re:And even if the kids don't mind... (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154299)

> But lets say that the kids didn't mind people seeing what they did on these machines; how do you think the parents would feel about someone being able to spy on their kid that extensively? I really don't see that going over well at all...

Pedobear is in your childrens school, reading their email/chat and downloading their photos? :P

Re:No offense... (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154369)

I would....Just so I can break them. ;-)

They'll just use their own laptops. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26153993)

You can't put too many restrictions on them, or else they'll ditch the school-provided laptops for something else.

Re:They'll just use their own laptops. (0)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154297)

I'm sure most of them are smart enough (or have friends who are smart enough) to wipe the drive and put Linux on the machines to get rid of the restrictions. It's not hard.

Re:They'll just use their own laptops. (1)

Jimmyisikura (1274808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154387)

Or if they want to be really sneaky just use a livecd to do whatever they want.

What Restrictions? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154001)

They should not be allowed to use them during the time that they are supposed to be learning.

Can of worms. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154003)

What are kids going to to do when they break these things taking them home very night? I wouldn't want my kid carrying around one of the schools computers every day.

Re:Can of worms. (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154207)

    I was going to reply to the OP, but you asked the magic question.

    Traveling moderately with laptops, mine have had a life expectancy of about 1 year. I've been lucky with my current one (a HP zv6000) which has passed about 3 years or so. I always treat my laptops moderately well (carried carefully, avoided dropping them), yet something fails.

    One dropped dead after passing over the rollers at an x-ray machine at an airport.
    One dropped dead after running in a warm room for one night.
    One got the screen cracked when a helpful stewardess shoved someone's luggage into mine in the overhead storage bin. Ahhh, gotta love airplanes.

    Hmmm, I can't remember the others, other than the life expectancy was only about a year.

    I know I'm not alone. I've worked on countless office laptops. Those that survive a year are real troopers. The best survivor other than my own was a 3 year old Toshiba tablet. It lost the hard drive and touch screen. Replacement parts were cheaper than replacing the unit, so I fixed it.

    I'm talking about grown adults, who like (or depend) on their laptops for work.

    Now, a bunch of 8th to 12th graders running around with laptops? Besides mishandling on their own behalf, what happens when the bully makes a frisbee about off the little kids laptop? What happens when they spill a drink on it? Put their books down hard on the top and crack the screen? Oh, the scenarios I could list, and they'll still never account for the all the real possibilities.

    With proper handling you may get a year, with improper handling, I'd see replacing hordes of them monthly. I feel sorry for the IT department who's going to handle the problems, but I feel worse for the taxpayers who are going to foot the bill.

Panasonic tough books (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154371)

Panasonic makes a line of notebooks designed for light abuse: tough book [panasonic.com]
or nasty treatement [panasonic.com] .

Re:Can of worms. (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154393)

I had an old IBM Thinkpad that lasted 8 years. Yes, eight. I'm not exaggerating. I treated the thing like a textbook for the last two years of its life. That laptop was awesome.

I've had my current Dell laptop for just over a year and a half, and I haven't had any problems with it yet (though I treat it better than I treated that old Thinkpad). I've left it running (not in standby) in a closed, insulated bag for several hours. I even dropped it about four feet once while it was running, causing the hard drive to fly several feet away from the machine - it works fine still.

So... I disagree with your "with proper handling" lifespan expectancy ;) But like everything else, YMMV...

What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have? (5, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154015)

How about ....n o n e...?

Given that most students will need little time to work around any restrictions in their way. Use the program as a way to demonstrate trust.

Re:What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have? (4, Insightful)

hkmarks (1080097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154325)

It seems like blocking at least some websites is necessary.

But that should be done at the server/router/whatever point. Put no restrictions on the laptops themselves.

If Facebook ends up causing problems, I'd recommend blocking it (while at school only!), but setting up a school forum (vBulletin or something) and allowing students to interact, collaborate, and plan events there. Moderate it to prevent bullying and bad behaviour, but not too harshly.

Re:What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have? (1)

againjj (1132651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154419)

Well, the OP says "The state mandates web filtering on all machines." So, "none" doesn't work.

Re:What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154423)

Came here to say this. Your "restrictions" will fail but what message are you sending to the kids?

First rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154017)

No placing laptops on your lap.

Leads to even more risky behavior down the road.

Re:First rule (4, Funny)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154405)

I think you're confusing "laptop" with "girl".

... Oh.

...What? (3, Insightful)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154035)

Why on earth are you choosing macbooks, aren't there better options for your school? Off the top of my head, the asus eee 900 line would be great, the 900A or 901 would both be great and can be loaded with linux easily, or leave the xandros that comes with it on and it'll work fine. I doubt the students will have the know how to hack linux.

Re:...What? (1)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154127)

I'm sure there were reasons. Hopefully more than just the "because they're pretty" reasons.

And I doubt the students would have the know how to hack mac either. Then again, is there something keeping them from re-formatting the machines other than manually checking to see if an administrator can still log into it? I guess you could have something to verify some sort of signed installation, or maybe you could just secure the hard drive (like make it so they can't physically remove it) and not let them boot from any cd or flash drive... but it just seems like a lot of work with really no result... Plus, it's a really stupid idea if you let the kids purchase them after use...

Re:...What? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154217)

True. More on topic, Locking these laptops down is a bad idea. I would suggest that for the time being, while the kids are using them in school, lock them down, maybe a timer from 8 to 3 you cannot go to facebook or myspace etc, but after hours those restrictions are lifted, and when the student leaves the school you can give them the admin password to unlock everything, though that would require a spreadsheet of the computers serials and the admin password, but that's not too tough. I just want to reiterate that unless you're required by the school board to get macs, at least look into other laptops, who knows, you could end up saving your district thousands of dollars (bonus for you hopefully :))

Re:...What? (1)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154303)

I like the idea. Locking them down during just school hours then "releasing" them would be a nice system. There are definitely some good methods (like the one you mentioned) that implement a system that has a good balance between the restrictions needed by the school and the freedom needed by the students, which is really the main challenge here.

Re:...What? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154329)

Yeah, I'm not aware of any software that could do this though, though I don't look into locking down my own computers often :)

Re:...What? (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154235)

I'm sure there were reasons. Hopefully more than just the "because they're pretty" reasons.

Two reasons come to mind quickly:

  • Academic discounts
  • Compatibility with pretty well everything on the web

While the EEE PCs are certainly per-seat cheaper than MacBooks, how good is the flash support on those? On the other end of the spectrum, you can get excellent flash support on low-end laptops from Dell or other PC companies, but they probably still won't go as low on academic volume pricing as Apple.

Re:...What? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154305)

I'm sure Asus would give an academic discount if they were propositioned by a school district for an order of 10,000+ units. I have a 701 and 901, both have excellent support for any web protocol, I get a 100 on the acid3 test with opera 10, though not smooth, as has been discussed before. I'm rather sick of people assuming eeepc's aren't real laptops, they're just as capable as any other laptop, aside from small hard drive space (not that important for linux/OO.o, pretty much all a student would need, I get by with the 4GiB on the 701 nicely)

Re:...What? (2, Informative)

cheeseboy001 (986317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154257)

I doubt the students will have the know how to hack linux.

As a Linux enthusiast and student in the local equivalent of the 10th grade, wrong: those of us that don't, know how to use Google well enough to find out.

Re:...What? (3, Informative)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154383)

As a 10th Grader in the US, and a linux observer, I do realize that, however, going by the kids I have seen in the local public schools (Thankfully I don't have to go there!), The majority are too stupid to do it subtly enough that the local admin wouldn't notice, and then their privileges are revoked.

Re:...What? (1)

Conception (212279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154327)

The teachers most likely will also lack the know how to fix linux should some student have a problem during class. Macs may come with a dollar overhead, but they also have a lower administration cost in terms of time if not money.

Re:...What? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154401)

I haven't had linux mess up on me providing it was on stable hardware and it was installed correctly, and I wasn't doing anything odd to it. Then again, I don't use it extensively, so it could be more common than I thought. A question for a more experienced Linux user.

Re:...What? (0, Flamebait)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154343)

Easier to use? Easier to administer? Overall a better computer for general purpose tasks? The ability to run Word, Photoshop, and iMovie (all of which were significant parts of my high school experience).

There are arguments in favor of the asus as well (cheap, moderately usable, teach the kids about free software, cheap) but don't act like using a mac for education is so ridiculous.

Re:...What? (5, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154445)

There are arguments in favor of the asus as well (cheap, moderately usable, teach the kids about free software, cheap) but don't act like using a mac for education is so ridiculous.

It is so ridiculous. There is no way taxpayer money should be used to purchase something as ridiculously overpriced as a bulk load of MacBooks (a few for school use, fine). This school board needs some serious management changes if they're greenlighting this sort of purchase when there are much cheaper options.

Built into Leopard (2, Informative)

neonskimmer (1265854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154047)

Leopard has this capability built in.
Parental Controls [macworld.com]

Surely blocking porn is enough? Blocking anything else is a cat and mouse game. You can be sure that they will figure out how to defeat the filtering anyways.

Myspace? Facebook? (5, Funny)

slack-fu (940017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154053)

Judging from practically every computer with a body in front of it at my local community college, these are the only 2 reasons to even have a computer.

Academic vs personal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154055)

If you express your goals as "Academic" then restrictions are seen in a different light.
In the scenario you described, "they practically own" the computer yet there need to be so many restrictions for the School to be happy, you have a conflict. You can't have it both ways.
Web filtering is a yes, in my opinion. Any legitimate website with real content does not need to be grouped with trashy websites. Meaning if you block all friendster's you aren't actually blocking anything that's "A useful must have" because if it were it wouldn't be grouped with myspace (which everyone basically views as a portal to idleness).
Block certain protocols as well, p2p, etc. This gives you deniability ("We didn't give students the ability to pirate software/media, they achieved that by bypassing our reasonable protections).

In a nutshell you need to iron out the goal of these computers. They can't be both personal and school only computers at the same time.
That's my opinion.

Re:Academic vs personal (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154163)

For me, there is no difference between academic and personal. I use all of my machines for both.

My employer imposes conditions on getting one of their laptops, so I declined. I said that I'll use my own, because I work best when I get to set up my tools the way that I like them.

LK

Re:Academic vs personal (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154191)

> Block certain protocols as well, p2p, etc.

I'd be careful blocking stuff like that. If there are a few restrictions that don't bother ordinary users much, there is little incentive to find a way to remove the restrictions. Once the restrictions become annoying the little bastards will find a way to remove them.

meh ... (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154067)

When I was a lad in Catholic school the nuns would cut out all the "racey" pics from the art books and National Geographics. The SI Swimsuit edition was always a particular let down :-( ... but to answer your question, they won't even care since most probably have their own unfiltered systems at home.

To my mind... (1)

rlanctot (310750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154069)

it's a completely unworkable plan. Five minutes after the student gets the Macbook he/she will have jailbroke it and will be posting how-tos on their myspace page. Repeat after me: "Not learning from past mistakes gets me an automatic failing grade. I can't force submission to autocratic standards."

Re:To my mind... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154411)

    I was talking to a friend about this, and we came to a similar conclusion.

    Based off of what I know of people, it won't happen quite like you think.

    One kid will figure out how to remove all the protective precautions. They may post it online. Lots of kids aren't interested in learning how to break it. Instead, they'll call a kid like I was (oh my, 20 years ago). For $5/ea he or she will unlock the laptop with or without the provided instructions. It will only be a matter of time before they all (or the majority of them) are unlocked, and kids are watching porn in school through a 3rd party proxy on an unfiltered port. :)

What's the goal here? (5, Insightful)

modestmelody (1220424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154077)

Why are students each getting a laptop? What's the goal? Is it to have a single environment with a single set of software that students can all work on commonly to assure instruction can make use of computers effectively? Is it simply to ensure students have computer literacy and/or access to computers for those who do not? How are you going to use these laptops day to day that is unique to what can be done from a home computer or library computer or computer cluster? These are the questions you have to ask before determining how much you want to limit student use. My initial inclination is that limiting the ability to mess with these computers is a huge mistake. It makes students less likely to learn about the machines they're using and less likely to use these machines. It makes these computers a hassle and something used solely for class assignments that cannot be done any other way and a paper weight the rest of the time. The only limitations should be use of anti-virus software and other protections so that they cannot hurt the network at the school when attached to it. Blocking ports for instant messaging services and internet filtering while in school is appropriate to ensure the integrity of the network, but crippling the computers is not necessary or advantageous. Are students really going to be expected to use a single machine bought in 6th grade through 12th grade? Are you going to be able to remove these restrictions, and be willing to go through the work to do so, when students buy their computers out right when they graduate? That could be a ton of work. Protect the network, block stuff from coming in that can affect other machines, but don't cripple the computers themselves. You'll only assure their limited use/usefulness. But honestly, before spending all that money, there need to be some good answers as to why your curriculum has unique needs that require each student have a laptop.

Re:What's the goal here? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154139)

Paragraphs, use 'em!

Re:What's the goal here? (1)

PhoenixHack (1032194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154263)

One of the few sensible goals would be teaching students about security. Teach about importance of A/V, firewall, not becoming a phishing victim, etc. Subject the students to real tests of their security savvy. Teach hacking, too, and reward students that find and report security holes on the school network. Teach students about how the monitoring works and encourage them to find ways around the monitoring, backed by rewards. Openly share these finds with other students after closing the holes. Deviously, you can get your students to do security evaluations of your network for very little compensation.

Be sensible. (2, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154079)

I think there are several schools of thought on this issue. Do you give the students maximum freedom and test their desire to be educated? Or do you take a more totalitarian approach and "force" the laptops to be used as learning tools?

I don't have any experience in school administration, even at an IT support level. However, understand that not every kid that goes to school goes with the intention to learn. With that being the case, expect that there will be students that will use the computer for their own personal leisure and students that will really use them as they were intended to be used.

Being that I believe that the desire for students to truly learn and excel rest with them, I would probably be really lax about the restrictions on the computer. Really determined slackers will find ways to bypass soft restrictions anyway, which is an extra step that your department will have to prepare for. That is, of course, if you decide to distribute a shiny new Macbook to every new student.

Is there any way that you can distribute computers based on academic performance? It might seem like bribery in a sense, but in this case it just might make sense. Better performing students would obviously make good use of having a laptop and being more productive, so why not save money and let them enjoy the prize?

Good lesson in black market economics (5, Insightful)

vanyel (28049) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154083)

The geeks in the classes will make a killing doing clean installs for those who can't figure out how to do it themselves. It will also install a very healthy antipathy for authority, what isn't already created by the school officials' other, similarly misguided, actions.

Re:Good lesson in black market economics (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154377)

The geeks in the classes will make a killing doing clean installs for those who can't figure out how to do it themselves. It will also install a very healthy antipathy for authority, what isn't already created by the school officials' other, similarly misguided, actions.

Yeah, until it breaks and they take it to their computer aide to fix, and they notice the machine's been wiped clean. "Hello, Mrs. Johnson? This is the computer aide..." That road ends in tears.

Wrong forum (5, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154085)

You're really asking the wrong people about this. Most of the replies you're going to get on Slashdot will be no restrictions because I wouldn't want restrictions on my machine. This is true for adults but you're dealing with children, some as young as 11 years old.

The people you really should be talking to are the parents in your district. Ultimately what their children see and how they interact with the world is up to the parents. I imagine that you will probably have a number of views that you will have to synthesize. Perhaps even create a number of different user profiles and allow parents to choose which one their child will fit into. But the first stop is ask the parents. As an upside, some of the parents will have grappled with many of the same problems at work and will probably have some insights.

Re:Wrong forum (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154133)

I'm so glad the C64 I had when I was 11 came with restrictions, otherwise I might have learned something.. oh wait.

Re:Wrong forum (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154335)

And the world has changed drastically then. There are things easily found on the internet that can seriously damage the psyche and development of a child. If the children were always monitored when using these I would say leave them completely unrestricted. In this situation I think it would best to put in some lock downs.

Re:Wrong forum (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154425)

and have them figure out how to defeat them in 5 minutes?, having restrictions isn't going to stop them from looking at anything at all, especially when they have unrestricted physical access to the laptops

None, because they will break restrictions anyway. (5, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154087)

See title. Have you been in a high school where students have access to computers that have such filtering? They get around it really quickly, and such information spreads like wildfire. And the fun thing with laptops is, you'll never know since they'll only do it at home.

Filtering just won't work. Trust the students a little. You can't expect them to just use the laptops for schoolwork... it's just unrealistic, and it's unnecessary.

Re:None, because they will break restrictions anyw (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154285)

I agree...at the same time we should remove laws that make it illegal to murder, abuse children and rape people because people are just going to break these laws anyway.

useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154089)

Restrictions are useless no matter what you do the user can get pass thouse restrictions. One very simple way to avoid all restrictions is to use a bootalbe cd or usb flash drive with a live linux distro there's a ton of them now. Best thing you can do is ask the parents to sign a contract by witch *they* hold all the responsibility of the children's actions.

Re:useless (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154265)

You can easily block booting from usb flash drive/cd/dvd/whatever in the BIOS. Put a password on the bios and you've stopped most students from booting another OS (sure the BIOS can be changed/reset, but this usually requires some skill).

You are not alone, others have done the same thing (4, Informative)

dmoorhouse (697672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154097)

I worked in a school district in British Columbia, Canada long ago. They were the second (?) district in BC to institute this same idea. In the end it was successful. You can find them at http://www.nisgaa.bc.ca/ [nisgaa.bc.ca] (note the kids with macbooks on the main page). I'm sure they have a plethora of info on the do's and don'ts on the subject. Sorry Nisga'a school district for all the traffic I could be sending you ;)

Who really owns 'em? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154099)

When you say the students will "essentially own" the computers, you're obsuscating a point that is VERY important to the discussion.

Who will ACTUALLY own the computers?

Only at school (5, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154101)

There should only be restrictions while the users are at school. There shouldn't be any restrictions outside of school—it's in loco parentis, not semper parentis.

As such, any filtering should be left on your network connection. If you want to block the ports iChat uses at school, go ahead. If you want to filter the web, go ahead. But there's no reason they shouldn't be able to use them at home.

None by default (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154105)

"The students will essentially own the computers, are expected to take them home every night"

The students should be able to do anything with them. If a student starts disrupting others in the classroom, then restrict that student only.

And any added blocks could be broken when the student has time at home. If you do put in blocks, it will become a game for the students to break them and who can break them the fastest.

Qs (3, Insightful)

ImOnlySleeping (1135393) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154129)

Since when do grade 6 students get laptops at school? And what happens when students "lose" the laptops? And what student is possibly going to buy a 6 year old laptop when they graduate? If someone offered to sell you a laptop from 2002 right now, how much do you think you'd pay? So many questions.

Contradiction (5, Insightful)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154131)

The students will essentially own the computers, are expected to take them home every night

We also have the ability to monitor any machine remotely, lock the machine down at certain hours, prevent the installation of any software by the user, and prevent the use of iChat

These two statements are contradictory. The sooner you accept this the less expensive the lesson will be for all involved.

talk to Denver School of Science and Technology (1)

notjustthisguy (1038400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154135)

You should contact the Denver School of Science and Technology. They give all their students laptops (WinXP last time I checked), and I'm sure they've dealt with issues like this. http://www.scienceandtech.org/ [scienceandtech.org]

How bout a compromise? (2, Interesting)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154141)

Have a background proccess block certain activities based on the time of day. I know this could lead to the kids trying to move the clock forward but you could probably set it to sync with the ntp equivelent or password protect the clock process. Then send home a sheet alerting the parents to the restrictions and give them the option to unlock the laptop. Therefore your not legally responsible for any activities that may or may not happen on temporary school property. Of course I've never used OSX before so I'm not how you'd implement this. But I believe this would be a way to avoid any conflicts.

No restrictions (1)

Minozake (1227554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154147)

Make the kids (or parents) buy and own them, and you won't have to do any of the restriction and monitoring crap.

the bigger question is your non-tech policy (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154153)

Namely:

  1. Make it so that students can store their laptops at school at their parents' request.
  2. Don't enable time-based lock down by default. However, give parents the ability to "opt-in" to a lock down policy that disables their child's laptop outside school hours.
  3. Don't install content filters. However, have a well-defined usage policy and enforce it strictly. If non-kosher material is found on a student's laptop then they lose it for the rest of the school year.

Honestly, I agree with the other posters who commented that allowing students to take the laptops home is just asking for trouble.

Create a restore point and a data partition (1)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154155)

Create a restore point, and a data partition that survives the restore. Ensure the data partition can only store certain types of files. That way, they can never break their software.

Why Macbooks? (1)

GFree678 (1363845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154161)

Why are Macbooks such a popular option at schools/colleges? I thought Apple still wasn't "mainstream".

Re:Why Macbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154287)

Macbooks are totally mainstream...
For the ipod toting crowd.

Otherwise it just adds snoody points

Remember the law of unintended consequences (0, Offtopic)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154165)

Consider carefully the liability side of this issue. If the university exercises NO control over the use of the laptop then they are also (almost certainly) not liable for anything the student may do with said laptop. But if the university places controls over what sites can be visited, or prevents file sharing programs from being installed - they're creating a problem for themselves. Now, if the student downloads the latest album the lawsuit can include the university - because they made a policy of controlling these uses and failed to do so adequately.

I can see those RIAA attorneys cackling and rubbing their hands together. It was hard prying settlements out of those college kids, but if they can drag the university in too they can really collect some money to give to those poor starving artists.

Consider also just how long it'll take the average college student to bypass any and all restrictions you may place on the laptop - it's a virtual certainty that those laptops will be used in ways the university specifically forbids. You can't put controls on these laptops and avoid the liability issue.

Its hard to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154171)

when I was in high school, we regularly bypassed the access control measures on the school computers. With the availability of live disks and amount of computer knowledge some students have, all any access controls will do is keep the honest students honest.

Perhaps an orientation on responsible computer use and have the kids sign an acceptable use policy? It really depends on the age of the kids involved. Sounds like high school, 14-18? How do you handle the students who are 18 and can legally access the internet's various restricted content?

Locked Down??? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154173)

You've obviously never heard of KNOPPIX have you?

You cannot lock down hardware which you no longer have physical control of can you.

Why reinvent the wheel.... (1)

rafter_hopper (25257) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154177)

Maine's been doing this for years, Here's the research and reports [maine.gov] on what's being done and why.

Filters do not work (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154183)

Filters simply do not work, there are sites called proxies that allow one to visit filtered sites. Blocking proxy sites is like cutting heads off a hydra, cut one off and another pops up.

Re:Filters do not work (1)

Volatar (1099775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154251)

Bah, proxies are for jocks, SSH is the geek way.

I'm a tech coordinator for a small district... (5, Informative)

Pollux (102520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154193)

...about 300 kids K-12. I'm a little surprised that you're asking this question. Are you a technology coordinator who is now addressing these concerns for a district who has never addressed them until now?

Most districts have access restriction policies that students have to agree to and sign. I'm sure about 95% of the Slashdot crowd's gonna scream to high heaven against restrictions, but it's a no-brainer. In short, four letters: CIPA [fcc.gov] . From the FCC's webpage:

Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement a policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called "hacking," and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) restricting minors' access to materials harmful to them.

These last two are really the biggest ones to consider when drafting an Acceptable Use policy, particularly the last, since "materials harmful to them" could mean practically anything.

Our district has taken steps to block MySpace, FaceBook, etc., because all these websites allow minors to publish themselves online. If students accessed these sites at school, and the child was kidnapped due to information posted on MySpace, districts may be found liable.

And banning MySpace will certainly not make these laptops useless. I'm surprised by this comment...it sounds quite ignorant. Districts didn't spend millions of dollars on these machines for students to post poorly-made self-portraits of themselves online. They (I hope) spent the money to grant students equal access to a tool that can be used to enhance learning. I would see a school-owned laptop in the hands of a student exactly the same way as any other computer at school. I'd restrict the hell out of it, because until they graduate and buy it for themselves, the district is responsible for what is done with that laptop.

How about standard user restrictions? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154199)

I don't know exactly how restrictive Mac OS X is for "regular" (ie, no sudo access) users, but why not just start them there? That would be simple to set up, everyone would have the same access, and it would reflect on what they would likely encounter in the real world when they eventually have jobs.

As for filtering, that is a whole different matter. Perhaps the PTA should be consulted for guidelines for what web material is appropriate at each grade level? I would suspect many parents would support different controls for a 6th grader than for a high school senior.

Physical access (3, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154203)

You don't stand a chance. The kids have physical access and you need to be able to run mainstream software. That means any knowledgeable kid can get administrative access in a heartbeat . Then 11+ year olds will tell each other how. You are done. As for remote monitor, they are on their home routers. They phone / cable company firewall is not going going to accept a TCP/IP connection you establish which means you can't do it.

The first thing you need to do is get realistic expectations or start constructed a much more secure system, which is not going to be a macbook you are talking encrypted drives, TPM chips, access keys on some pager which need to be plugged in for the system to work.... trusted computing group website [trustedcom...ggroup.org] .

Schools aren't going to pay for that sort of stuff. What you do is you set expectations reasonably, lock the system down badly, filter the minimum and have an easy way to re-image and that's it.

Privacy (1)

mdemonic (988470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154239)

# We also have the ability to monitor any machine remotely...

You fucking what? Thats it, I hereby resign from society, good luck to you all

Re:Privacy (1)

Volatar (1099775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154295)

Its quite laughable actually. Any moron with a hardware firewall immediately kills this idea. My $40 Linksys router will block such things by default.

easy answer (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154241)

Sorry, but the answer to this one is really easy. There's no evidence that giving laptops out to K-12 students has any positive effect on education whatsoever. Since their educational effectiveness is zero, the educational impact of any of these decisions that you make will also be zero. If you want to make absolutely sure you don't get sued by parents who are upset about how their kids were damaged for life by seeing porn, uncable all the hard disks before you hand out the computers.

Reality on line 1 (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154249)

My mom recently caught my kid sister (age 12) visiting some "inappropriate sites", and immediately went off the deep end, asking about filtering, auditing, locking the system down, the works. So we talked about it, and I let it sit for a few days, then invited my friend over and we had a "big sister" chat. And then I showed her how to delete entries from her browsing history.

Let me tell you right now -- there's no way to lock a system down. There's no way to filter, audit, etc., to a kid. Besides, kids are bored most of the time anyway and all you're giving them is a challenge. So the way I see it, you've got two options -- either you act as the gatekeeper, or you act as the guide. You can't be both.

The gatekeeper is the filters, the auditing, the monitoring -- in short, the parent. Is this a role you want to play as school administrators? Are you prepared for the legal responsibility? I know you're going to be catching flack from people like my mom who are going to throw a knipshit the moment their precious snowflake gets busted reading harry potter slashfic, or realize that google image search for hentai or eucci brings up cartoon-depicted sex acts. They'll be at your school board meetings, on your voice mail, and holding the ears of everyone they can get a hold of. Visualize that for a minute. The state of the art in filtering and monitoring cannot and never will fully succeed in its stated goals, if only because it's a shifting target and defining "appropriate for minors" is about as useful an excercise as re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Your second role is equally perilous. You be the guide -- which means educating those students. This is the computer equivalent of sex ed classes. You need to tell them what's online (and I mean what's really out there), what the risks are, and how they can protect themselves. You need to instill in them the ability to make moral and ethical decisions about their conduct online, with the explicit understanding that you can't stop them from going where they shouldn't -- only that they know what the consequences are (or could be). And here again, the parents are going to throw a knipshit and want your head over religious matters, etc., and flying spaghetti monster we go.

My advice is to offer some limited education to the students about what's out there, how to stay safe, and offer filtering and monitoring software for the parents to use. Ultimately you need to get the responsibility for how the students use these systems off your shoulders, or you will find yourself in a very special kind of hell that will do neither your school district nor your career any good. The key words here is "informed consent." You make a good faith effort to educate, cover your ass with disclaimers, and leave the final decision to the parents. Do not give these people any way to wiggle out of responsibility for their darling little crotch-fruit. It's blunt, but there it is -- you have to look out for yourself here first.

Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154255)

At school, filter through the schools network. At home, provide a crash tech course for parents and outline risks versus good usage behavior. Make the parents responsible for monitoring their kids out-of-school computer use. If they do not take the course, require them to sign a waiver and indemnity agreement. If they take the course, have them sign a waiver showing that they understand the risks. Offer quarterly course updates, encourage parents to attend the courses with their children.

Overall? Facilitate parent/child and institution/child trust. The fastest way to destroy this trust is to lock things down when one kid violates the rules of appropriate behavior or to pre-lock things in fear that a kid will mess up.

---

Now the sarcastic twit in me: What are you afraid of? The rich parents in your rich school district suing your rich asses? Fuck you and the expensive horse you rode in it, donate that money to a needy school so they can afford better teachers and books.

trash (2, Interesting)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154261)

I would put such a laptop in the trash, or just reformat it.

Don't try to limit what they can do with it, because they can do whatever they want with it. You have no control at all.

Depends on what you're trying to teach. (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154273)

Unless you're trying to teach them to circumvent computer security you give them a laptop with no restrictions whatsoever.

  - If you put ANY restrictions on it, they will immediately start trying to break them. You'll be giving them an early start on a life of cybercrime.
  - And if you punish them (the ones that get caught) for doing it, you'll also be giving them an early start on a criminal record.

Here's what I'd do in your place:

  - Include a standard load on each laptop.
  - Provide a backup facility on the school's network for those files they want to back up.
  - Have the standard load preconfigured to automatically back up a particular subfolder. Tell them to store their schoolwork (and anything else they want preserved) there until they learn how to configure it to back up additional folders.
  - Provide a facility for reloading the laptop with the standard load and restoring the backed up folder(s). No penalty for the kid to reload it to stock, even repeatedly.
  - Explicitly grant permission for the kids to experiment with their laptops, loading what they want, trying other op systems, etc. (Warn them about only loading stuff they have rights to: Purchased software, FOSS software, their own stuff, stuff they have the author's permission to load, etc.)
  - Let them try to run with alternate OSes, dual-booted, etc. (Warn them that the school personnel probably can't help them much with other configurations, but if they help each other or find help on the web that's fine.) Let them access the backup tools from alternate OSes if they can figure out how.
  - Do any government-mandated censorship on the school's network, not on the kids' laptops.

Then the kids can reconfigure their laptops all they want and experiment all they want. When (not if) they break the configuration they can go to the school's lab and restore it to a known starting point with the latest backup of their important files

THIS way, instead of starting them on a life of cybercrime, you'll start them on a life of computer literacy and skill. You'll quickly find yourself with a herd of little geniuses, with some of them running a computing club and most of them - even those whose primary interests are something other than computers - displaying exceptional computer literacy.

Re:Depends on what you're trying to teach. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154309)

- Do any government-mandated censorship on the school's network, not on the kids' laptops.

What they do at home or otherwise off school grounds, once they figure out how to hook up to the home LAN or make the internal modem do dialup, is their parents' problem, not yours.

Re:Depends on what you're trying to teach. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154417)

What they do at home or otherwise off school grounds, once they figure out how to hook up to the home LAN or make the internal modem do dialup, is their parents' problem, not yours.

But do send a letter to the parents giving them a heads-up that the kids will have a non-restricted laptop so it's the parents' job to monitor their out-of-school network use of it if that's what they want done.

(And feel free to get a site license for some cybernanny product and for the poor-but-fascist parents who want to impose it on their kid. The kids will just bypass it, of course. But this will cover you when they do. B-) )

None. (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154289)

The less restrictions you put on them, the less time the students will spend trying to get around them. For every move there's a counter, for every counter there's a move. If you lock it down too tight they'll reinstall OS X or boot from an external drive. If you apply a firmware password they'll quickly learn how to crack them open and find the firmware reset button. Remember, just like pirating movies (arrgh!) all it takes is one person to crack it and post the movie, or in this case the instructions, for everyone to have it.

Another note: while in class, if the work being done doesn't require the laptop, have every teacher make the students close the lids and/or put them away. Always. Period.

my 2 cents (1)

andrewjj20 (716117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154345)

A good starting point would be what companies and universities are doing with them. Internet filtering is the norm(assume they are going to get around it, have a policy for this). While most companies have a list of allowable programs and then do not place a restriction on install; this may not be right for you. This part would depend on what kind of stuff the help desk will be doing. Monitoring software is up to you(generally not on corporate); personally, I hate it. For me this would severely restrict how i use the laptop(notes transfered to a flash drive to my real computer). it would never see any real use until i bought the thing and reinstalled the OS(even if you already did).

This is what my university is doing now with it's laptop program(I am not a part of it). Personally the monitoring is the crippling part of it. Most profs that i talk to don't use the monitoring part. This may be different with high school, considering most profs don't care what you do with class time as long as you aren't interfering with anybody else. There is one loop hole, and that is that someone can use their own laptop with the monitoring software installed(can someone say vm) (of course i know the prof and will be taking notes in dead tree form).

The main point with a laptop program are basically filtering, software install and monitoring. You find something for those and the rest should be a cake walk. That should give you a starting point, or at least some of what people are doing with laptop programs and my personal opinions on the policies as a student.

Asking the wrong crowd (4, Funny)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154347)

..only partially

40% of the replies will be "do not filter anything, you Nazi!"
1/2 of those will be "Do everything in your power to circumvent the existing school board rules."
Another 30% will say "don't bother, because the kids will just go around your blockages."(thinking that all school kids are as adept as the ubergeeks here are)

You may get a very few replies about how you can actually do what your job requires.

students will essentially own the computers (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154349)

so prevent the installation of any software may be going a little far and if they purchase the laptops then no software lock down also web filtering on all machines should be at the school internet link not at home.

They should be able to do some stuff how will you do upadates not all stuff works with apple update system. Flash updates need to done by hand and adobe apps have there own system. Office is the same way.

Facebook and Twitter, etc... (2, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154351)

>>Are things like Facebook and Myspace a legitimate use of a school computer?

Well, I didn't think they were a legitimate thing for a business computer... but now our company is on a "social networking" rampage. We're actually being encouraged to use them, but nobody seems to be able to quantify the business benefit yet, other than "get networking!". Yay.

And yes, I work for a Fortune-500 company (actually, a pretty stuffy historical brand name)

What a waste! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26154355)

This is a terrible waste of money. Students do not need a computer to learn.

all restrictions. (1)

jtnak (1434091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154363)

really, if you think you know better than kids what is good for them, or doubt their ability to learn on their own, you're better off not giving them anything at all. unfortunately, the way society is set up, what with cipa and all that, kids don't have much rights. the internet is really egalitarian, and blocking it goes against its whole point. in short: teachers are jackasses, school ain't shit, whatever

Practical Experience (1)

ttuegel (737533) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154373)

My high school did this with students in 11th and 12th grades, except without the option to buy the machine at graduation. There were no restrictions in place, and I'm not aware of any problems that ever occurred because of it. However, that may become a different story when you put them in the hands of 6th graders. At the same time, the inability to install software or use iChat makes them mostly useless. In my experience, students often found useful software (besides games) to install and iChat became a very useful tool for collaborative work. As for web filtering, I recognize the legal requirement for it on school networks, but making it follow the machine everywhere will last until an enterprising student figures out how to get the filtering software off.

The question: what are you trying to accomplish? (2, Insightful)

crescente (1334029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154379)

Is it "protecting kids from themselves"? Besides the fact of whether you want to do this or not, many kids will have access to their parents' or friends laptops anyway. Are you trying to cover your ass if they do something dumb? Just trust the damn students. Put the responsibility on them: if they accept the laptop, they accept that they have to decide what is "good, moral, proper" etc. to do on the laptop, with all the consequences of it. If you start policing, you're basically implicitly assuming responsibility for the kids, not allowing them to take responsibility, or for the parents to teach them responsibility. When you do screw up and let the kids download child porn, it'll be all on your head.

None (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154431)

If the laptop gets physically damaged, they pay for it. You're going to re-image the whole thing anyways when/if you get it back.

Other than that, I'd leave it alone. Completely. Run some sort of IDS and watch for nasties and 0wn the perpetrator with a (mandatory?) reimage. Include security software but don't make it mandatory - if somebody removes it and gets hurt, too bad.

That being said, remember you'll have untrusted machines on your local network. Keep that in mind.

If you're handing students a machine, they are out of your hands. If they get formatted, you're SOL on your filter software. If they're using their home network without some sort of VPN you have no business filtering their connections for their parents. So don't bother.

Basically, what would you do if somebody gave you a new laptop when you were in high school? You might have wanted to format it and put linux on it, install aircrack, or watch porn. If you try to stop them, they will get around it and be pissed off at you.

Just some thoughts. You're not there to be the tech nazi, you serve their education.

It's a waste of money. (2, Insightful)

mpd2008 (1434099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26154439)

Learning does not require a computer.
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