Filter relaxes, computers on the watch

Emma Peterson, Staff Writer

Freed from the restrictions of last year’s Internet filter, Benilde-St. Margaret’s students can now browse virtually any website. Due to many complications and complaints, the administration decided to remove the Internet block on student laptops—but that doesn’t mean students aren’t still under surveillance.

The administration realized the inconvenience of websites constantly being blocked and decided to change the system. “My opinion has always been to open more and monitor more. I don’t want [the students] learning to be hindered and stopped by constant blocking of sites,” said Ms. Mary Andersen, assistant principal.

Adult content on websites, however, has been blocked along with ads––possibly bringing more technical difficulties. “When you block a category you might be blocking something that you don’t know you’re blocking,” said Mr. Steve Pohlen.

The filter no longer blocks Facebook, which broadens opportunities for students, especially with the technological advances in current society. “We don’t want our students to be at a disadvantage… so many colleges are using Facebook [as are] various volunteer opportunities—we don’t want to restrict that, but we want [the students] to know they are being watched while they’re on Facebook,” said Ms. Anderson.

Teachers now become more involved in monitoring students, aided by new technological resources. “I would say that we have a much better system in place for teachers to monitor what their students are doing…If you want your students to only be on a certain site that day, you pull them in. LanSchool allows you to pull them in and say [they] can only go here,” said Ms. Andersen.

The new filter seems to be effective so far, but the administration remains alert and open to change, if needed. “Students are less frustrated. I don’t think we have a good sense yet of our students doing things that are distracting more than they did last year. If we feel like it’s a detriment to the educational environment, then we have to make adjustments,” said Mr. Pohlen.

Interestingly enough, students’ online behavior has changed in surprising ways. “Gaming went down significantly from last year because the students aren’t needing to go to games…YouTube went up––a lot of online streaming,” said Mr. Nicholas Gamache.