School Internet Firewalls: Hindrance or Help?

Sat 11 2009

Firewalls can keep students from thinking critically about internet use and prevent teachers from introducing valuable web-based resources into the classroom, according to Justin Reich writing in In Schools, a Firewall That Works Too Well, an article published in The Washington Post on Saturday, July 11. "The Internet is an integral and growing part of our lives and, to prepare our children for the future, schools must help students wisely and safely use the Web," he states.

Firewalls don't hamper students, but they do limit teachers.

Reich, a former high school teacher, editor of and doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, believes that knee-high fences don't help students make wise decisions about internet use and that many students can break through internet security anyway—witness the 187,000-member Facebook group, "How to Access Facebook from School."

Conversely, Reich points out, firewalls often mean that teachers cannot access websites in the classroom that include relevant primary and secondary educational resources. In turn, this impacts instructional techniques; 21st-century teaching methodology needs to keep pace with students' out-of-classroom internet use, according to Reich's article.

About the Author

Lee Ann Ghajar is a digital history associate in Public Projects at CHNM and a PhD candidate in American history at George Mason University.