Connecting Outside Laptops to the District Network

Last month during an in-service day, the guest speaker planned to use his laptop during a presentation to show slides, demonstrate a software program, and share Web sites. I knew that our network is locked down pretty tightly, but imagine my embarrassment when he could not access the Internet at all! We substituted a district laptop, but had to skip a few sites that were blocked by the filter and also forego the software demonstration because the program was not installed on the replacement laptop. Is my district unusual in this regard?

Most speakers today have laptops and prefer to use their own computers during a presentation. While accessing the Internet through a district network is often as easy as plugging in an Ethernet cable or establishing a wireless connection, that’s not always the case. Many speakers will know to ask ahead of time about connectivity and filtering, but you also need to take a proactive stance.

Talk with your district’s network administrator to learn the policy on connecting outside computers to the network. A few districts prohibit this entirely and in this case, speakers need to know that ahead of time. Most districts will allow it, but may require that a technician be onsite to make the connection happen. You can also ask the speaker ahead of time for a list of Web sites that will be used during the presentation. That way someone in-house can check to ensure that the sites are accessible through the district network.

Next Tip: Laptops for Teachers?