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Wednesday, 22 June 2011 17:05

Chinook implements technology acceptable use guidelines

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Chinook School Division is trying to protect its bandwidth by implementing an acceptable use for technology for all of its teachers.

At its May 9 board meeting, the school board changed its policy to only allow the use of computing technology, networks and online services for learning activities that support instructional outcomes and for day-to-day work.

That includes research that supports educational programs supported by Chinook and communication between staff, students, parents and other people outside the division with content regarding the school.

“We were most interested in protecting the integrity of our network and its infrastructure,” said Kyle McIntyre, the division’s deputy director. “The other key piece is we want to protect the safety of our students and staff with their Internet or with their electronic use of data.”

Schools in the Chinook School Division don’t have much bandwidth — how much data may be sent through a network or modem connection. Each school should have three megabytes by three megabytes soon, but that is less than the bandwidth in most houses.

The amount of bandwidth is dictated by the Ministry of Education through its Community Network.

McIntyre and other representatives are concerned the misuse of computers — such as watching YouTube videos, listening to Internet radio or downloading or transmitting unnecessary items — will use up too much bandwidth and create issues with the distance learning programs that are becoming popular throughout the division.

The division, however, isn’t banning YouTube videos from being shown.

Teachers are allowed to use the popular video website for educational means as long as they aren’t infringing on any copyrights and the videos aren’t available on a new server called Rover.

“There are YouTube videos that the ministry has determined will be useful for certain subjects in the curriculum and they will be saved on a server called Rover,” said McIntyre.

“The schools will be wired for that by the fall of 2012. The schools can draw from this Rover server instead of using the bandwidth to go out to the Internet and access a YouTube video.”

As part of the new policy, all teachers in Chinook will be required to sign an acceptable use guideline document stating the teachers will abide by the conditions and guidelines.

Students will not have to sign any documents to use computers and Internet at schools.

Both students and teachers, however, may be punished if they break the division’s policy.

People who violate the division’s new policy may have their computer privileges removed  or suspended or terminated. They may also be responsible for the recovery costs of damage or loss of data or equipment and they could face criminal or civil charges under the law.

The severity of the penalty will depend on the offence.

McIntyre doesn’t believe the changed policy will impact most teachers as they follow the guidelines already. New teachers will learn about the policy at their orientation in the fall.

“Most staff use the Internet and it’s used for infrastructure correctly,” he said. “Other staff do not, but it’s always remarkable when you go to a school that’s having trouble with bandwidth and you find out that this employee was using Limewire or listening to Internet radio or watching a YouTube video because people don’t understand the consequence of their Internet choices on our bandwidth.

“All those things, YouTube or Netflix or Limewire or Internet radio, draw bandwidth from the pipe
and every school only has a certain amount of bandwidth for them.”

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