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FCS Tech Officials Try to Balance Learning and Student Safety

FCS+Tech+Officials+are+trying+to+find+the+right+balance+of+learning+and+safety+for+students.
FCS Tech Officials are trying to find the right balance of learning and safety for students.

FCS Tech Officials are trying to find the right balance of learning and safety for students.

Daniel Jimenez

Daniel Jimenez

FCS Tech Officials are trying to find the right balance of learning and safety for students.

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Restrictions are everywhere: websites are blocked, computer applications can’t be used, add-ons can’t be added and videos can’t be watched.

Many students know they face these restrictions on their devices.

To some, these restrictions seem unnecessary. For example, educationally helpful add-ons, such as Adobe Reader, which allows people to view PDF files, are sometimes blocked.

Many students would rather keep computers unrestricted. Others, however, may ask why these restrictions are even necessary.

The biggest reason: security.

Many students believe Fulton County’s decision to block sites, videos, applications and add-ons is an effort to balance distractions with usefulness. While this balancing act is a big part of the decision, security is the most important factor.

“There is a ton of personal information that we are responsible for with our students,” said business teacher Russell Gray.

Media Specialist Laura Morgan agreed. Morgan said security is not only important to keep students’ information safe, but it is required by law.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act, or the CIPA, requires schools to put measures in place to protect students from the dangers of the internet, which include computer viruses and hackers who attempt to steal personal information.

Security is so important, in fact, that temporary bans on add-ons are put in place solely for that reason.

A problem, however, arises when cybersecurity hinders students’ interests and the devices’ educational uses.

Gray sees the regulations as a way to balance all three of these aspects. He compares this to a Venn diagram with one category for security, one category for education and one category for entertainment.

Ultimately the goal of the regulations is to have our computers and tablets fall somewhere in the middle of this Venn diagram, he said.

Trying to find this balance can be difficult.

Gray said if Fulton County becomes too focused on security, students would barely be able to use any computer features, and if they become too focused on education, students’ engagement would suffer.

Making sure regulations don’t stray too far into security, education or entertainment requires lots of work from the Fulton County IT Infrastructure Management Team.

Balancing the Surfaces’ educational potential with the need for security requires input from the people who use them, said Fulton County Schools’ IT Infrastructure Coordinator Colin Charles.  

Teachers and school administrators are able to report problems to help the school’s tech team pinpoint and fix them.

However, faculty and administrators don’t notice all problems. Some require that students step forward.  

Students, like teachers, can submit proposals for new applications and new regulations, said Charles.

Two groups at the school cater to students’ cyber needs: The Vanguard and iBears.

Whit Whittall
Junior Vasyl Lazariuk at the iBears help desk with junior Manasi Rathore.

The Vanguard fulfills students’ and teachers’ requests for new programs, whereas iBears takes care of reports of security holes and undesirable bans.

These groups take requests from students and teachers alike, make their own judgments on what is needed and then send out requests to the Fulton County tech team.

Requests are encouraged, said Charles. Students use school-issued computers and tablets almost every day, so they are more than likely to find problems with security and regulations.

And while not all suggestions are accepted, Charles said the county’s tech team tries its best.

“We are always making sure we modify regulations fairly for the benefit of our students, and to keep you all safe,” said Charles.

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About the Contributors
Abdul-Rahman Sayed, Reporter

Sayed is a senior and a first-year reporter. He enjoys programming on his computer, reading books, playing his cello and hanging out with his friends on the weekend. Sayed is excited for a great, first year with The Bear Witness!

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Whit Whittall, Lead Photographer/Reporter

Whittall is a senior, a first-year reporter, and serves as the Lead Photographer for The Bear Witness. He enjoys going to the movies with friends, playing guitar in bands and photography. An interesting fact about Whittall is that he’s currently developing his rock-climbing skills to go climbing in Washington State. Whittall is excited to join The Bear Witness this school year!

 

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Daniel Jimenez, Editor-in-Chief

Jimenez is a senior and a fourth-year reporter. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief for The Bear Witness. Jimenez previously served as the managing editor for Opinions and A&E during the 2017-2018 school year. Jimenez enjoys binge-watching the latest hit tv shows or movies on Netflix, rocking out to the hottest singles, and taking photographs. Jimenez is ecstatic to lead The Bear Witness this school year and can’t wait for the school to read some great articles!

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