Software control like what Soti MobiControl provides to businesses was used in a recent school pilot program to allow teachers to interact with each student’s mobile, monitor what the student is doing there, and apply discipline. A month ago a school district in Pennsylvania was sued for calling down a high school student for something he was doing at home — observed by the webcam on his school-owned laptop.
How much intrusion should a school have, if any? At what age should a student be trusted keep the contents of the computer he/she uses for school private? Certainly, we would not allow college kids to be intruded on by deans of discipline who watch what they are doing on their smartphones and/or laptops.
An article from O’Reilly Radar about the recent school pilot program does a great job of describing the current state of things regarding the way schools exercise control and limit boundaries for what individuals students can do with their mobiles.
The network in the image above is from a Soti’s MobiControl video that shows how top down management of multiple mobiles works. The following are the first and last paragraphs of the pilot article. They explain the rationale for controlling student mobiles. Do you agree? I would rather trust the kids.
In most schools, cell phones are checked at the door — or at best powered off during school hours in a tacit “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding between students and administrators. This wide-spread technology ban is a response to real concerns: if kids have unfettered instant access to the Internet at school, how do we keep them safe, how do we keep out inappropriate content, how do we prevent real-time cyberbullying, how do we even keep their attention in class when competing with messaging, gaming, and surfing? . . .
As for the issues of safety and appropriate use of the Internet, each student in the pilot has signed an acceptable use policy outlining their responsibilities as cell phone users at school. Soti’s MobiControl software, which allows the teachers to interact with each student’s cell phone, also allows them to monitor use and apply standard classroom discipline techniques for inappropriate behavior in the virtual world — just as they manage behavior in physical hallways and on campus grounds. Not surprisingly, after some initial testing of the boundaries, a culture of responsible use quickly evolved among the students.