ContentWatch: One-to-One Devices Come With Dangers


By Clayton Ostler, Senior Director of Technology, ContentWatch

In 2013, 89 percent of high school students had access to a mobile phone, laptop or tablet. That number dips slightly to 73 percent for middle school students, and even half of all children grades 2-5 have access to these devices.

Nationwide, 33 percent of all students have a school-issued mobile device, and with these huge changes come additional challenges for schools. Throughout the country, one-to-one initiatives and other programs are expanding rapidly, ensuring students have the technology at school and at home that is necessary for today’s integrated learning.

The classroom integration of mobile devices is increasing at a rapid pace, and it’s easy to see why. A recent study indicates that nearly 80 percent of teachers and administrators feel technology has had a positive impact on both the classroom and productivity of students. By adjusting her curriculum and integrating video lectures, a teacher in Maryland saw an increase from 3.59 to a 4.11 average out of a possible 5 on an AP calculus test. While student engagement and learning increases, schools must know how to protect students while still providing technology-fused education.

Schools have a responsibility to protect their students from the dangers that come from this proliferation of technology, particularly when students are using school owned or issued devices. These threats are constant, allowing students to be exposed to inappropriate content, dangerous and distracting software, and cyberbullies and predators. Protecting students and reducing liability for schools also ensures the proper working condition of devices and increases the focus of students who are using them.

Physical devices or network-wide software are typically used at schools to filter out unwanted content. While these devices are effective at protecting specific networks, today’s Wi-Fi and cellular networks can effectively render them useless. A student can easily skirt these “hardwired” protections by connecting to a Wi-Fi signal near the school, or even by activating a cellular hotspot on their phone to easily access content restricted by the school’s filter. Furthermore, this protection on a school network ends when the child goes home. Once away from that filter, students are typically left unprotected and free to use the device however they want.

The easiest solution for protecting devices is using software that is installed locally on individual devices. Top research firm Gartner recommends that security is best accomplished at the endpoint rather than at the server level. This ensures there is protection active at all times on the device.

Installing software on the device prevents students from circumventing protection measures even when they use a hotspot or connect to a different Wi-Fi network— it ensures the safety of the device anytime, anywhere. It allows students to continue accessing school curriculum and materials easily on the Internet while protecting the user and schools from inappropriate content, malicious software and other threats.  This keeps students protected and focused on their schoolwork while using school-issued devices.

Schools can make use of other protections to make sure that students and teachers are secure. In my next article on one-to-one device programs, I’ll discuss more specifics on how schools can implement those protections.

Clayton Ostler

Clayton Ostler

Senior Director of Technology at ContentWatch
Clayton has spent 18 years in technical roles at IT and technology based companies. His experience includes various responsibilities, many of which include multiple successes during his thirteen year tenure at ContentWatch. As the Senior Director of Technology at ContentWatch, Clayton is the technical lead for all sales engineering efforts and implementations. He is the primary technical resource to the sales and marketing teams and the head of Product Management. Clayton provides companywide leadership and is deeply involved in the technical aspects of product management and business strategy for product development and sales. Clayton is the technical leader in providing direction for the technologies and features included in ContentWatch products. He also plays as a key technical role when building business partnerships and alliances. As a technology leader, Clayton is the primary resource for technical demonstrations and presentations. He has been interviewed and quoted as an Industry expert in protecting families and children online, and the technologies associated with this protection. His demonstrations, articles and quotes have been used in many mainstream media outlets and publications. Clayton is part of several organizations dedicated to the protection of children online and is the ContentWatch representative on the Board of Directors for UCAP the Utah Coalition Against Pornography.