Many districts block teacher and student access to online social networking sites and other Web sites with Web 2.0 capabilities, because these popular Internet destinations can pose a risk to network security and student safety. To help schools ensure a safe educational environment while maximizing Web 2.0 learning opportunities, Lightspeed Systems, has added the Educational Video Library feature to its latest version of Total Traffic Control.
Total Traffic Control is a sophisticated, easy-to-use network security application, providing a full range of network protection features. These include content filtering, spam management, bandwidth management, antivirus protection, extensive reporting capabilities, email archiving, and mobile filtering. For the new release, Total Traffic Control 7.02, Lightspeed Systems has enhanced this feature set in several ways, most notably with the addition of the Educational Video Library.
The Educational Video Library enables teachers and students to play approved YouTube videos through a portal on the local network. All of YouTube's video functions operate normally, but the other community information and links that are usually displayed on the YouTube Web site along with a video, such as promoted videos and user comments, are removed. Network administrators designate teachers and staff who may submit and/or approve videos for sharing. As part of the submission process, videos are placed in a subject category such as math or science and tags may be added for more specific searches. Teachers can search by category, tags, and titles from the library of previously approved videos. Video approval can be widely delegated to teachers and curricular leaders or limited to a single administrator. In its current form, the Educational Video Library is limited to users within a district, but Lightspeed Systems is planning a future version that will allow content to be shared among Total Traffic Control users around the world if desired.
"Technology directors tell us that one of the most frequent requests they receive from teachers is for access to YouTube videos with educationally rich content," said Scott Garrison, president of Lightspeed Systems. "Sites like YouTube are part of a shift in education toward more collaborative technologies and digital media as schools strive to provide a 21st century education. However, administrators are challenged with the security and safety risks that come with Web 2.0 technologies. Schools must comply with state and federal regulations such as Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The Educational Video Library is our first step in a concerted, long-term effort to help schools adopt Web 2.0 tools in a safe and effective manner."
The 2007 study by Grunwald Associates LLC and the National School Boards Association, "Creating and Connecting," examined student use and attitudes toward social networking. It found that 96 percent of students with online access use social networking technologies such as blogs and online communities, and that almost 60 percent of these networked students discuss education topics online. The report suggests that schools must find a balance between ensuring student safety and allowing students the freedom to engage in responsible online communication and activities. With online social networking so deeply embedded in students' lifestyles, educators have the opportunity to harness it for educational purposes with the aid of tools like the Educational Video Library.