EDITORIAL: A ’net loss for education

It’s nothing less than shocking how British Columbia schools, including those in the Tri-Cities, have had to scrimp for computer labs, teacher training and internet upgrades so students can get fast, efficient access to the web for research and school projects.

It’s nothing less than shocking how B.C. schools have had to scrimp for computer labs, teacher training and internet upgrades so students can get fast, efficient access to the web for research and school projects.

For more than a decade, schools have tried to build programs considered key to 21st century learning with little to no direct capital funding for technology. While the province is touting “personalized learning” and the transformation of education through technology, it has put up very little cash to support its latest enthusiasms.

The result is a patchwork of services across the province and extremely slow connections to the internet in classrooms. In the Tri-Cities, School District 43 has even been linked to pornographic websites in the U.K. because pictures of naked women could be generated using common search terms.

While not the district’s fault, this problem underscores the fact extreme vigilance is necessary on the part of parents and teachers to ensure inappropriate material doesn’t get into the hands of children.

But there’s more that could be done with a timely infusion of cash. According to SD43, new monitoring programs could actually block this material at schools.

While parents are seen as gatekeepers of the internet for their kids, more and more responsibility for educating students about safe web usage and internet research is falling to teachers, yet they don’t as yet have the tools to do this job properly. SD43 is putting together a code of conduct but without funds for internet monitoring and better internet connections, it can’t fulfill its function as guide students’ use of web resources.

Some of the consequences of an overloaded system have included problems with online exams and shutdowns of the data management system BCeSIS as well as frustration amongst staff and students who can’t get on the web to do their work.

The problem with outdated technology is well understood by parents who struggle to keep up with their children’s internet usage. It takes cash as well as technological know-how to stay ahead of the kids and schools shouldn’t be left in the dark ages by the provincial government.