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Colleges Work To Block Net in Class 382

SkewlD00d writes: "The story is that colleges spent a load of money wiring schools, now they want more money to censor them in class. I bet I can get around any of this, all I need is a proxy server running on campus on port 80. LOL! But breaking it would probably violate the DMCA. Oh no, proxy servers are now all illegal!" From the article: "some classrooms at Bentley have technology that allows teachers to capture a student's e-mails or instant messages and display them on a large screen for the whole class to see." Of course, a lot of classes do (and will) require Internet access -- the article is more about steps taken to control exactly when and to what degree students can reach it. Update: 09/26 13:32 GMT by T : If the AP server-choosing link doesn't work well for you, el_nino-2000 suggests this Yahoo! link to the same text.
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Colleges Work To Block Net in Class

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  • Whats going on with the link? Sure doesn't lead to any story...
    • Re:dumb link (Score:2, Informative)

      Whats going on with the link? Sure doesn't lead to any story...

      Chose one of the partners sites, and reload the url. It worked for me. I think their site needs a cookie to allow access to the content.

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:17AM (#2352017)
    Since when? What kind of classes require Net use? Just a few years ago, we used books and paper and we learned just fine.
    • by KosovoYankee ( 310988 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:23AM (#2352053) Homepage
      Well, let's say you are takin a class in a computer science field (coding, architecture, etc). Computers suddenly become necessary. Unless you are learning how to design MS user interfaces, in which case crayons and construction paper are all you really need.
      • Re:Computer class (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ColdGrits ( 204506 )
        All very nice, and all very IRRELEVANT to the question, namely why would a class *require* NET access?

        Reckon you might want to read before replying next time, eh?

    • Easy, I use it to find NYTimes articles, I use Everything2 for just about any classwork, and I find political science editorials.

      I view 3-D images of electron shells, I read some T.S. Elliot, I use it to find the GDP for economics class.

      The only thing I have trouble with is finding sheet music.

      • Yeah, except that you don't need to do most of that *in* class do you?

        Although, if science fiction is any indication, 25 years from now, you will need to constantly access some sort of network constantly to function in a place like college.

        The question that really needs to be asked here is whether large, non-participatory classes are going to be of much use in 25 years, and if not, how will we replace them? I personally haven't found any non-participatory classes I've taken to be more useful than a decent book (and hell, why can't they just tape the thing and I'll watch it on VHS, DVD, or QuickTime?). With network access, school should become a meeting of tutors with students via email or other messaging (IRC, AIM, whatever), and scheduled appointments for more difficult questions. Using moderated forums and FAQs teaching redundancy goes down, and if more than a couple students ask the same question or have trouble with a specific topical area, the tutor sets up a quick meeting with the lot of them to sort it out.

        I remember my junior high math classes were similar to this, it was called "packet math" and we rarely had full class lectures since everyone in the class worked on topical packets. You took a pretest. If you passed that you skipped the packet. If you didn't pass, you worked through the packet-- reading and solving sample problems. If you solved the sample problems correctly you took a post-test. If you passed that you went to the next packet. Otherwise you worked through the material again, this time with more supervision from the tutor/teacher.

        Applying this model to higher education (say 10th grade and beyond), instead of tuition, your billing rates could be based on how much of a tutor/teacher/professors time you used up, in addition to straight fees for each topic/class. Schools would still want to offer certain topics/classes where groups (for live discussion, interactivity, or critiques) were necessary or as seminars. But to get past the required courses of a general nature, some students would be far more efficient under a test, work, test approach. And for those students who need more individual attention, it's there.
    • I believe at the University of Dayton the new law building they built had internet connections at every desk and multiple locations outside of the classrooms. I also think they required you to have a laptop so you could connnect to the internet in class. The main reason being that it is much easier to carry a laptop and access legal rulings than to carry around paper tomes with this information.

      While not all classes would need a net access I think finding it on the net would be faster and cheaper than buying all the relevant books.
    • Should classes teach you how to solve real life problems using real life tools, or should they be an exercise in memorization of facts and information?

      Having NET access in classrooms is the equivalent of having a huge library in each classroom (and much more, but let's concentrate on information gathering).

      Do you need a huge library in each classroom?

      Nope. If the type of teaching practiced in that class boils down to making students memorize how much is 7x7 or the name of all rivers in [insert country here] or the name of all presidents/prime-ministers/emperors in [insert country here] since the dawn of times then having a teacher write it down in the black/white board and making you write it down and recite it until you puke is enough - no need for NET access.

    • Yeah, really,

      And on many of my exams, I had to, by hand, write out all the equations and solve them for problems that you would normally use a computer for (Finite Element Data for a Wing Structure for example).

      Nowadays, you could use a palm pilot with most of your tools pre-programmed. I wonder what engineering schools are like these days? When I went, all we had was a calculator and paper. Exams that had only *4* problems, taking 2-1/2 hours! Gotta love when you make a dumb little transposing mistake in your formulas then! Oh the joys of discovering you made a dumb mistake 3/4 of the way into solving one of those beasts! Man how I wish we had easy access to symbolic manipulators back then!
  • by McFly777 ( 23881 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:18AM (#2352021) Homepage
    At least when I attended college as long as you weren't being disruptive it was your choice to pay attention or not. After all, you were paying to attend the class, if you didn't want to get your money's worth that was your choice. The prof. wasn't expected to hold your hand, but rather s/he simply dispensed a grade at the end of the term. If you got a bad one, perhaps you should have been paying closer attention.
    • by ajakk ( 29927 )
      However, what you are paying typically doesn't cover the cost of your education. If you are attending a state school, taxpayers are subsidizing your education. By not paying attention in class, you are wasting the gift that the state is giving you, and the professor (an employee of the state) should be allowed to do what he wants. Even if you are attending a private school, most tuition at private schools does not cover the cost of running the school. The private school uses money out of its trust to keep the school running. So as an employee of the corporation, the professor has the right to refuse to teach you.

      Finally, you are not paying to attend the class. You are paying to be taught. A professor is (supposedly) hired because she knows how to teach you best. If you could teach yourself, then you wouldn't have paid for the education. Thus, the professor has the right to hold your hand if she thinks you will learn better.

      • Except, of course, that you have to qualify that statement with a "supposedly". Be honest - the school doesn't give a flip whether you knew the material before going into the class or not. Nor do they care if the professor teaches YOU anything, because they're only responsible for teaching classes in the aggregate.

        You can indeed test out of certain classes, but only the most common ones, and then only in situations where it's easy to quantify the knowledge into a standardized test. I tested out of Physics I, but there's no way around the Introduction to Public Speaking course, even if I've got a dozen trophies for that from back in high school. (Obligatory reality check - I don't have a dozen. ;p)

        Therefore, I'll spend an hour and a half this afternoon in a class I won't learn anything from, except how to do a task I already know how to do, but not as well as I already know how to do it. Who says that college isn't a certification program?

        Most college classes get around this problem by encouraging students who don't need instruction -not- to attend. Problem is, these policies also enable students who merely think they don't need instruction to split as well, and then they flunk the course. The opposite extreme is pretty bad as well, though, as enforcing attendance just means that you have bored students that have to be present, just like in high school.

        I'll be frank - I am indebted to a large number of teachers from HS that were as happy to have me asleep and learning as awake and bored. I've had college professors tell me "look, don't even come to class, there's no point for you to hear these lectures, here's a lot of good books I would like to recommend instead, call me and we can talk about them". These are the best teachers I have had.

        Problem is, I'm a freak who enjoys reading and learning, and if the schools were oriented towards people like me, most everybody else would flunk horribly. ^_^;;
    • The problem is not whether someone pays attention. It's very distracting when the person next to you, or in the row in front of you is surfing. It's worse than sitting next to the guy who clicks his pen every 0.25 seconds, or the guy who shakes his left leg so fast that the surface of my coffee has ripples on it.
    • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:15AM (#2352292) Journal

      At least when I attended college as long as you weren't being disruptive it was your choice to pay attention or not.

      It depends on your definition of "disruptive". As a grad student I've instructed my share of classes, and I can definitely tell the difference between a class that is largely paying attention and one that is not. It's tough to teach a class that is disinterested; there's no give-and-take between the lecturer and the students. It's difficult to quantify, but there is a definite relationship between the instructor and students such that a more interactive class leads to a better teaching environment for everyone.

      Further, although they're indispensible in labs, I dispute the usefulness of an internet-connected computer in a lecture. Even if it can be used to display instructional material, in my opinion it's a rather sterile way to teach (and learn). Of all the instructional aids I have seen, nothing beats the chalkboard. There's something about the pacing and flow of a chalkboard lecture that's impossible to capture using transparencies, PowerPoint, or the Internet -- probably because a lecturer using the chalkboard is proceeding at the same pace that the students are writing notes, so the students have time to absorb.

      Besides, if you're going to be surfing the web anyway, why do it in class? Why not skip and do it from your dorm room or wherever?

  • In a public High School, I can understand if the school wants to block students from various sites, sending email, or doing any sorts of other stuff. Because High School is kind of like prison.. you don't get a lot of say in matters.

    College, on the other hand, is something you choose to go to. You pay to go. If you'd rather be surfing the web or writing email during class, why should it matter to the professors as long as you aren't disrupting their class? If you fail because you weren't paying attention, that's your own problem and your own waste of money.

    I went to a school where every student was required to have a laptop. Professors really didn't seem to care as long as you weren't clacking away on your keyboard really loudly, or surfing for porn, or whatnot.

    • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:27AM (#2352079)
      "If you'd rather be surfing the web or writing email during class, why should it matter to the professors as long as you aren't disrupting their class?"

      If you feel that web surfing during class is sooo important, then why not skip class and stay in your dorm? That's why universities stick those little Ethernet jacks in dorm rooms. The rest of the class probably doesn't care to hear the keyboard clacking or the various annoying sounds of AIM (some idiots at my school still don't know how to turn off the speakers on the machines!).

      Some people actually show up to class to learn something. If you have no interest in learning, please don't show up and bother everyone else who's there to learn.
      • God forbid someone want to look something up during class. Not everyone surfs to look for porn- there's a hell of a lot of information out there, and being able to do research in "real time," actually during a discussion or lecture can bring a lot of value to it.

        Besides, my laptop's keyboard doesn't clack. Of course, if I were a prof, I'd confiscate for the rest of the class period anything that made so much as one beep. After a couple of days, those e-tards would either learn how to use their computers, or they would learn how to not use their computers.

      • by Masem ( 1171 )
        I consider myself a fast learner; I rarely learn anything in the lecture that wasn't in the day's prior reading or the like. Particularly with some of my undergraduate classmates, who would need concepts repeated over and over again. Yet I still want to attend the lectures in order to possibly learn something I might miss, or to get information on something that wasn't covered in the book. So what I would do was to do the homework that was assigned for that class for the next week, or for a different class, while still listening and taking notes.

        While students like me are the minority, I think those that are understand that if we are going to do anything else during a lecture that we'll do it with minimal disruption in the class. I'd still favor blocking internet access and the like, only because what's on my computer screen can be seen by people behind and to the sides of me, and that can cause a disruption if it's the wrong type of images, and there are other ways of keeping oneself busy without disrupting others in a class.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Colleges Work to Block Net in Class

    Associated Press Writer

    BOSTON (AP) - Two colleges on the cutting edge of Internet technology are now pioneering solutions to a rapidly growing problem: students who pay more attention to their computers
    than to their professors.

    Bentley and Babson colleges were among the first in the nation to wire their classrooms for the Internet. And now they're spending tens of thousands of dollars on software and hardware
    that lets professors block some Internet access in classrooms with network connections.

    ``Faculty members were finding students surfing the Net, sending instant messages, even looking at porn in some of the freshman intro classes,'' said Phillip Knutel, Bentley's director of
    academic technology.

    As another deterrent, some classrooms at Bentley have technology that allows teachers to capture a student's e-mails or instant messages and display them on a large screen for the
    whole class to see.

    The software doesn't censor which sites a student can visit on the Internet. Instead, a professor can choose whether classes have access to the entire Internet or just the school's
    internal network. Professors can also block out e-mail and instant messaging.

    Babson math professor Joe Aieta said his students have told him the temptation to use the Internet during class is too great when it is at their fingertips. That's why Aieta occasionally
    limits their access.

    ``They think they can keep up with the classwork while sending and receiving messages,'' Aieta said. ``But they acknowledged that it didn't always work so well.''

    Babson freshman Patrick Lehner, 19, said the network-blocking software doesn't bother him that much.

    ``Are students here happy or proud about it? Probably not,'' he said. ``But there's a good lesson to be learned from it. It might help rebuild people's habits so that they focus more (on class).''

    Bentley, which in 1985 became one of the first U.S. colleges to require undergraduates to have computers, first implemented the blocking technology in classrooms in the last academic year. Babson had a primitive
    version of the software installed three years ago.

    Cabletron, a Rochester, N.H.-based company founded by Babson alumnus Craig Benson, developed the original Babson blocking program. Enterasys, a subsidiary of Cabletron, developed Bentley's program and
    recently upgraded the one at Babson. Both schools were involved in the development.

    Lois Brooks, director of the Academic Technology Specialist program at Stanford University, said she doesn't know of any other school that is doing what Babson and Bentley have done.

    ``I've heard people talk about this, but I haven't heard it go beyond the speculation stage,'' she said.

    Some schools have been trying less sophisticated solutions to the problem.

    The University of Virginia has installed switches in its business school classrooms that kill access to computer networks. But the switches aren't well-hidden, and students who know where they are can flip them back

    Other schools, such as UCLA, last year banned Internet connections in its required, core classes. And Columbia last year expanded its ``integrity code'' to include a student promise to ``use technology in the
    classroom only as it is directly relevant to the material being discussed.''

    So far, no tech-savvy student has been able to crack Bentley's or Babson's software, according to Knutel and Aieta.

    Aieta plans to ask his students to try to crack the program in order to test its security, figuring that's what they'd be trying to do anyway.

    ``If you have denied access, and if the student thinks they can somehow get it back, they will try everything,'' Aieta said. ``They've never seen a button they didn't want to push.''

  • Ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by YaRness ( 237159 )
    So what else are they going to do? Walk around the class to make sure nobody's got comics or porn behind those book covers? Read their notes to make sure they aren't doodling in class? Hire a mind reader and make sure they aren't daydreaming about the girl/boy sitting next to them?

    How about just trusting that the students that are there to learn will be doing so.

    And maybe try including material in the class that isn't read straight from the book so that these idiots wasting $10k+ a year for a phat pipe and a kegger every weekend will have to actually pay attention to pass the class.
  • DMCA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:22AM (#2352047) Homepage Journal
    I realize you're kidding, but it doesn't help to be alarmist about the DMCA. It protects only access to a copyrighted work, not anything having to do with "hacking" a proxy server to get out of your school's network.

    The DMCA is a bad, scary law and should be overturned, but we won't win that battle by making it out to be something it's not. Educate, rather than knee-jerk.
    • Re:DMCA? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brian See ( 11276 ) <bsee@spelloutmyr ... m ['eal' in gap]> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:22AM (#2352318)
      Let's be even more specific why the DMCA doesn't apply here. The provisions of the DMCA /. readers are most worked out about (Section 1201 []) are the anti-circumvention provisions. These provisions forbid you to circumvent technology that "effectively controls access" to a copyrighted work. It also prohibits trafficing in devices (including software) that circumvent these access controls.

      I think we all agree that this is an overbroad, bad law. But hacking a proxy server has nothing to do with circumventing access controls. Controlling general access to the internet (or even specific access to all email and instant messaging) does not constitute the exercising of access control by a copyright owner.

      Moreover -- and I suppose this might be disputed by some -- I don't think there's that much of a privacy violation here, either. Students using the school's network during class simply have no reasonable expectation of privacy -- especially if this policy were announced in class.
  • by Samedi1971 ( 194079 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:22AM (#2352048)
    The idea that colleges with paying students would spend money trying to force their customers to pay attention is incredible. They paid for the class, so let them fail if they want. Better yet, students can probably be getting better information from the net than they get from your average professor anyway.

    Bottom line: Let the adults paying to surf in your class surf. Or crack down on doodling in notebooks as well.


  • Man, those professors are living in the past. They must think you're actually supposed to listen and even participate in the courses they teach. God, they're so backward.
      • Man, those professors are living in the past. They must think you're actually supposed to listen and even participate in the courses they teach. God, they're so backward

      Well, yes. By the time that I got my degree in 1995, all I was required to do was to ace the 20% of my CS degree that was actually skills based, then regurgitate enough of the pet projects of my lecturers to scrape a pass. Using The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy as an example for most problems also seemed to work well.

  • by dilger ( 1646 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:23AM (#2352059) Homepage
    Look at the picture in the article. It's an AP photo, so it's probably not the same classroom, but it displays the real problem. Everybody has to face the teacher. It's just reproduction of the same tired low-involvement teaching methods that require little or no interactivity or effort.

    A talking head is still a talking head, whether you've got a computer in front of you or not.

    This is why lecture is the smallest component of my pedagogy (IMO group work, in-class assignments, big discussions, or just not having class are better alternatives).

    • What's even better is if they make Powerpoint slides, turn down the lights so you go to sleep, and talk to the screen instead of to the class.

      Now it's a talking head in a dark room facing the wrong direction.
  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:24AM (#2352064)
    What censorship? I don't see any censorship here. Before any of you go into a "FREE SPEACH!!!" mode, read the article...

    "The software doesn't censor which sites a student can visit on the Internet. Instead, a professor can choose whether classes have access to the entire Internet or just the school's internal network."

    I know this may sound like a foreign concept to some...but you're in class to learn. Wanna use the Internet? Do it in your dorm, and save the rest of the class from your incessant keyboard clacking.
    • The thing that irritates me about this is that colleges feel that they need to restrict or remove the technology to solve this problem. In most of my classes, students were respectful enough of the speaker and each other to not subject everybody to keyboard clacking and mouse clicks. In the few where they didn't get the hint the professor would clue them in without making a scene in front of the class and the situation would be resolved in a professional and adult manner.

      So many of the 'problems' we've got with technology are really problems with human interaction. Another example is all the jumping through hoops businesses do to restrict employee usage of the internet using expensive hardware and software rather than handling misuse of the internet as stated in company policy in a similar way to handling employee tardiness or any other situation in the employer-employee relationship that you can't fit a fancy software filter between. In school/college of all places teaching people to correct inappropriate behavior rather than trying to simulate an environment where it will never occur seems more productive to me in the long run, even if it is inconvenient when trying to run a class.

    • few comments here.

      #1 -- you don't want students using the net in class - don't provide PCs in the lecture room.

      #2 -- don't require attendence to class. The student is paying for class he wants to surf let him at home. Don't force him to goto class.

      #3 -- Don't have enough room to not allow PCs in this classroom? Drop net access from that room for that class. Nothing more than a flip of a switch.

      #4 -- Most of the time you are in class only b/c you have to be. Honestly 60% of the time spent in class is down time. Not learning time. Who cares what they are doing.

      I don't particularly agree w/people using the Internet during class but I also do not agree w/the school providing PCs for the students in a lecture class.

      If you don't want them to use it, shut off the machines. Nuff said.

      As far as them invading your privacy by showing the IMs, go ahead, does the rest of the class really care if I am talking to FuckYou69 about getting drunk on Thursday night? I highly doubt it.
      • #4 -- Most of the time you are in class only b/c you have to be. Honestly 60% of the time spent in class is down time. Not learning time. Who cares what they are doing.

        Dude, what type of community college are you going to? I'm sorry, but there was very little downtime in the college classes that I attended. If you were not paying attention to half of the lecture, you were in trouble. It was as simple as that. It was full speed ahead, hope you can keep up with the rest of us.

        Then again, the freshman intro classes were designed to make sure that the first year's didn't have time to go to frat parties (and it also helped the departments weed out the less capable).

        So, my suggestion to you is this: if you spend 60% of your time in class bored and not learning anything, you should find a new college to go to. After all, you're paying for it, you may as well get your money's worth.

          • Dude, what type of community college are you going to?

          It can vary a lot. I went to one lecture in the 2nd half of my final year. It was a pre-exam revision lecture for a course that I quickly realised that I hadn't done, but that was OK because I fell asleep anyway as I'd been up all night hacking Xfire.

          And yet I still got a solid degree from a great school, because I knew my shit. While I was "goofing off" from class, I was learning actual programming skills, rather than the abstract pet projects of the professors. I scammed enough notes off of my classmates (or off of their screens - lock those X terms, guys) to figure out what I was expected to say in the exams, and I dutifully said it and was graded on that basis, not on what I actually knew.

          And now that I think about it, sometimes the only chance I got to use computer resources was when a class was held in a lab. I had the choice of two-finger typing in a stupid toy program, or I could demonstrate to myself why PPK authentication is a waste of time for open source programs. I chose the latter route, and learned a lot more.

          So let's not just write off all non-class related work as a waste of time. I've wrangled lab classes, and I'd far rather walk around, see what the students are doing, encourage the smart kids (including the ones going faster than I can keep up with) and just kick the real wasters out. I don't want some crippleware nanny program doing it for me. In fact, my first assignment would be to get the class to find a way around it.

      • Not all professors using a room may feel the same about computer usage. So in between classes should the PC's be moved in and out? Or if the classroom just has ports for a student to plug a notebook in, then that is not even an option.

        As for point 3, that is what it is talking about - a flip of a switch, just not a physical one.

        I don't think there are tons of schools that have surplus space and can both have rooms just for classes that need puters AND schedule all the classes without there being some overlap.

        As for item 4 - sounds like you went to a shitty school.
    • I don't know about you, but I paid money to go to classes when I was in college and so long as I wasn't doing anything that disrupted the other students then I feel they have no right to stop me. I paid for the privledge to be there, but that doesn't mean they should be able to force me to do things their way. The only reason I went to (some) classes at all was the possibility that something interesting/insightful/important would be said; however, the vast majority time I should not have even bothered. So instead I wrote programs long-hand on legal pads (I would have killed for a laptop). Should the professor have stopped me?
    • Back in 1994, I had a class which was held in a computer lab. We weren't even allowed to touch the computers in class. The only reason we were in the lab was for the tests, and even then, there weren't enough computers to go around. [We did all of the computer work during the lab sessions, for which we were broken into two groups].

      Typically, I sat there, logged into a mud, and did a little chatting [damned old IBM keyboards suck for being quiet in class]. When I took 'C as a second language' in 1996, I admit I switched over to mudding as soon as I finished the assignments, and the fact that I was typing my notes in class masked the fact that I was mudding in the background.

      When I took a graphics art class (same semester), hoping to learn a few interesting tricks with photoshop, it turned out to be the 'we're going to make webpages class', and at the time, I was sitting in as the 'webmaster' for the university, so I blew off most of that.

      However, I always did my best to multitask during these incidents -- I may have had a second window open, and half payed attention to it, but I also paid attention to the teacher. [When the teacher left us on our own, that's a whole 'nother story].

      Last year, I took a class [C++], which turned out to be an intro to programming class, but I stayed in the class [I'm not paying cash for it, just my time, as I work for a university], and even though 60-70% of the class was review for me, I paid attention to it, and most of the class, if they showed up, still paid attention to the teacher. [Might have been because most of 'em were freshmen or sophomores].

      This semester, however, I'm taking a series of certificate courses [Oracle DBA], and the students in the class are some of the most obnoxious bastards I've seen in my life. These dumbasses installed AIM on their machines to cheat on an open book test. [And it wasn't all multiple choice...the teacher grew suspicious when all of their queries were the same, and their numbers in the tuning class has NO variance between 'em]

      I admit, I still do the two brained thing, and listen to the teacher in one ear while reading up on the news, and sometimes nudge a friend stilling next to me with interesting articles I find on I've learned, through the years, to be subtle about it. I type softly, and use tab to move about. If I need the mouse, I click slowly, so it's muffled.

      There are a few folks, whoever, who seem to never pay attention to class. They bitched when the network went down [that segment was infected with CodeRed, and was shutdown at the router], as they couldn't sit there and AIM/read e-mail/post on Diablo2 webboards/etc. It's gotten to the point where I've debated unpugging their keyboards before they come in [always late, always noisily], and smacking one of 'em who has taken no less than 15 cell phone calls since I've been there.

      Not only are people wasting their own time by using the Internet in class, but it's disrespectful to the teacher, and it's distracting to the other students. I'd be more than happy for us to have no outside connections, as you do when taking class at the Oracle training centers. [Hell, when the teacher's up there presenting, they even take over your computer, so you can't do shit]

      It also gave me a nice little way out when my boss decided to call me to tell me there was a problem, and I could reply 'well, I have no connection, you're either on your own, or you have to reschedule me for this class and shell out another $2k'.

      Teachers need to be able to control their classes, and just like they can decide if they're going to allow food and drink [hell, I even had one prick of a teacher who wouldn't let you take notes in his class], teachers should be able to restrict people from using the computers when they're not supposed to.
  • by Uttles ( 324447 ) <uttles@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:25AM (#2352069) Homepage Journal
    I hate to lose any of my freedoms on the net, and I think it's wrong for Uni's to limit internet access in your dorm room on your personal computer, but for once I agree with this restriction. The internet in the classroom is there for a specific purpose and people shouldn't be chatting away with their friends or surfing the porno sites when the prof. is trying to teach. That results in those same people asking all the stupid questions at the end of class keeping everyone there for an additional 10 minutes. If someone gives you internet access in your dorm room or at home, it should be unrestricted access, but if you can use the internet in class, they should restrict it to only what you're supposed to be doing.
      • once I agree with this restriction

      Do you agree with using a gutless technical solution rather than obliging the wasters to be personally responsible for their actions? What's that teaching them? That if you can figure out how to work around the system, that's OK?

      Ask them to stop, tell them to stop, kick them out. I've wrangled lab classes, and believe me, it works just fine.

      • I agree with that, but from the flip side, the professor should be able to turn the access off and go about teaching, not spend all of the time policing the class, which then hurts the class for the other students.

        Also, it is a bit different between lab classes and lecture classes...usually the lab classes are students working on something or another with the instructor there to provide help or guidance.
    • I hate to lose any of my freedoms on the net, and I think it's wrong for Uni's to limit internet access in your dorm room on your personal computer

      While I wouldn't like it either and would not want to do it if I was told to at work, you are fogetting that the bandwidth, infrastructure, etc... is the university's, not yours. It is in place to assist with your academic goals, not your conquest of mp3 collecting or iso trading.

      You're not paying for the access in your room the same way you are for it at home. Sure, you may have technology fees, but that goes for a whole lot more - servers, wiring classrooms, bandwidth, support, etc...

      Then again, the college I work at has a $40 technology fee which goes for the above and more, and we have a $95 athletic fee...for a school that thinkgs itself on the bleeding edge of technology in the classroom.

      Go figure.
  • by JimRay ( 6620 ) <{jimray} {at} {}> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:26AM (#2352073) Homepage
    I have to seriously object to the knee-jerk reaction that the story's submitter seems to be suffering from. This isn't censorship in the classroom. It's not as if these schools are imposing some draconian system of keeping information out of the hands of their students--they just want them to pay attention in class.

    The system in place is one that I've actually used as a teaching assistant at UNC []. We have, as do many universities, a huge problem with students simply not paying attention in class. The classes I taught were multimedia development, so every student was sitting in front of a computer. You could gurantee that everytime the lights went down for instruction, the email terminals came up. I never actually had a professor use the screen capture, but the fact that it exists doesn't bother me at all.

    The reality is, these kinds of measures are not censorous. Institutions of higher learning have been and will continue to be places where freedom on the Internet will be vitally important. When this freedom begins to be limited at schools, we're in serious trouble.
      • The system in place is one that I've actually used as a teaching assistant at UNC. [...] everytime the lights went down for instruction, the email terminals came up

      Did you mind them reading email? If not, what's your point? If you did, why didn't you ask them to stop, then tell them to stop, then just kick them out?

      This isn't armchair coaching, I've wrangled Computer Science lab classes as a TA, and I quickly found that I had to choose to either ignore the wasters, or to kick them out and focus on the good students. I chose the latter course, but the former's OK as well, as long as you're not hypocritical enough to then welcome a cyber nanny that saves you actually interacting with the students.

      The thing that would worry me about this system (in any kind of Computer Science class) is if my students either couldn't crack it, or didn't want to, or (worst of all) didn't dare to.

      To head off a potential rebuttal, no, I don't advocate students cracking systems in general, or their college system. I advocate them cracking anything that's put deliberately in their way purely to obstruct and restrict them, especially if it gives the message that using blanket suppression is better than obliging people to take personal responsiblility for their actions.

      At the very least, I'd expect them to want to crack it, and then figure out how to do it and let me know. I'd expect them to want to crack it because it's there. It scares me that people here are saying that students should just accept this system without question, because it's for their own good. That way, how do you distinguish the timid from the lazy from the talented? You lower them all to the same level. In a computer science class, the one thing that I don't want to hear is silent keyboards.

    • In the US especially, people pay for their own education. If they want to spend time emailing in class, let them!

      In my first year in University I started out going to all my classes, including intro to computer science. After the first class I realized that I knew most of what they were teaching already. I considered not going to class, but I thought it would be good to be there in case they went over something I didn't know. If I had had a computer with me I could have done some emailing, worked on the assignments for the class, etc. while waiting for the prof to hit something I didn't know. But we didn't have computers in the lecture hall, so instead I just sat there and tried to fight off sleep.

      Unless the students who are emailing, IMing, searching for pr0n, etc. are bothering other students, let them do what they want! If they're being disruptive, kick them out.

      In high school it might make sense to do something like this. Most kids don't have a choice about whether they go to class or not, and most are having their education paid for by taxpayers. It makes sense to do what it takes to get them to pay attention. But in University?

  • There is nothing wrong with a teacher wanting to restrict the use of the internet in the classroom to the task at hand. Students should not be reading their email or instant-messaging on class time. This is not a violation of rights more than it is akin to the teacher asking students not to pass notes in class. It is when these restrictions carry outside the classroom that one must worry about rights violations.
      • There is nothing wrong with a teacher wanting to restrict the use of the internet in the classroom to the task at hand

      Absolutely. So why don't they?

      1. Please use the facilities provided for the task at hand.
      2. Stop doing that.
      3. strikes, buddy. Get out.

      Has the concept of personal responsibility gone so far out of fashion?

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:27AM (#2352080)
    Let me see:

    I pay beaucoup bucks so that some old guy can stand and lecture me. If I fail to regurgitate the old guys spew, then I have to pay him to lecture me again (assuming that I want to earn that passport to a decent corporate job known as a degree at some point in the future). So instead of paying attention to the old guys spew, I choose to cruise /.

    Who gives a fuck. Let the idiot cruise. They'll be out of school soon enough, and you'll have your money. If some kid is smart enough to cruise and memorize the spew, let 'em. Quit trying to be everyone's momma and let adults be adults.

    For those who consider this a rant, please note my perspective. I finished my degree at the ripe old age of 32. You have a completely different perspective on college after working a few years. Professors go from being overbearing jerks to service providers. Straight out of high school kids cheered when teacher didn't show. I was pissed and would go to the dean. I payed for that class time, and if I wasn't going to get it, I expected a refund. Other students would cheer when teach gave an extension on homework due date. I was pissed, 'cause I had mine done and I didn't want a bunch of lazy dipshit who couldn't get a couple pages of homework done in a week getting the same degree as me. Yes, I wanted them to drop out so that the market wouldn't be flooded with CS degrees that shouldn't exist.

    This falls into the same category. Let those without a modicum of self control do what they deserve to do, dig ditches or flip burgers, but damn the nanny state.

    • Amen!

      However, I think that professors deserve little bit more respect from their students. Students surfing the net and emailing while you're trying to teach is distracting and obnoxious.

      But then, I majored in philosophy, so net-surfing wasn't a big problem in our classrooms :)

      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dragoness Eclectic ( 244826 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:58AM (#2352214)
        I once got thrown out of a Beginning Philosophy lecture because the professor got pissed off that I was reading a book in the back of the classroom and not paying attention to him. He later apologised, but not before I learned something important that I should have known already:

        It's just plain rude to ignore people when they are talking to you!

        If you don't want pay attention to the lecturer, then don't attend the class. Reading e-mail, sending IMs, surfing, reading books, etc. when someone is talking to you is rude.

        There are few laws that forbid you from being rude or obnoxious, but if you are, don't complain when you get treated as if you were rude and obnoxious.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NMerriam ( 15122 )
      This is absolutely right.

      Another example: in high school, we had to ASK befor we could go to the bathroom. Why? Because they didn't want you disappearing.

      In college you just get up and go without disturbing anyone. If you want to disappear for the rest of class, feel free -- and if you fail, its your fault.

      OTOH, if you can make straight As by reading the book and never going to class except to take the final, that's no problem, either.

      Its the difference between being an adult and being a child. If someone wants to surf when they should be learning, as long as they aren't disturbing those around them, knock yourself out...
    • You are absolutely right- very lucid post.

      If we would drop this nanny state-bullshit as early as freshman year highschool, I'm willing to bet that our countries educational performance would skyrocket.

      People tend to act like adults once they are treated like adults. They have to feel that the consequences of their actions affect them.

      Sadly, even through college we coddle and patronize students, insulting them. This inhibits learning and proper maturation. (Ask foreigners if they think american teens are mature or not)

      And I also agree that ~60%-80% of all CS degrees have no merit.

    • As someone who once was a fellow "lazy dipshit," shouldn't you have a little more understanding for people who don't take college seriously enough? You mentioned you finished your degree at 32, so I'm assuming that you started when you were younger and at some point you left. If I'm wrong, please excuse me.

      I left college last year, and so far it has been one of the best decisions I have made. When I was there, I saw plenty of students who didn't care, who got by doing the bare minimum. At the same time, there are plenty of students who really put their hearts and souls into their educations. But for those others, I think they're simply not ready for college. I know I wasn't.

      I understand students who just aren't enthusiastic about college. Maybe they shouldn't be there, or maybe they need to go back when they are more mature. But to suggest that they all dig ditches or flip burgers? Come on. You can't exclude the K-12 educational system from at least some of the blame - By the time students get to college, many of them have become completely cynical and disrespectful of institutional learning. Couple that with the feeling that they are being forced to go to college, or the feeling that they won't get a decent job unless they go, and you'll get a bunch of bare-minimum C- students.
  • by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) <> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:27AM (#2352082)
    I bet I can get around any of this, all I need is a proxy server running on campus on port 80. LOL! But breaking it would probably violate the DMCA. Oh no, proxy servers are now all illegal!

    I doubt very strongly that the answer to getting around the censorship is a proxy server. And censoring access to the internet has absolutely nothing to do with the DMCA, since the Internet as a whole is not copyrighted.

    Basically, the submitter has no real clue, and was trying to increase his chances of getting his submission accepted by linking it to a popular geek issue, the DMCA.
  • by speed_bump ( 104415 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:29AM (#2352087)
    I have a friend who works at a large and reputable business school. They are quite concerned about wireless networking and the potential for cheating. The department has asked them to shut down the wireless access points during class hours to avoid that problem. They have tried to do this by a combination of perl code and cron jobs. I pointed out to them that most cards can associate with each other in ad-hoc mode. Needless to say, they didn't like that :-)

    The truly entertaining part is that they provide each of their MBA students with a wireless PDA and similar gadgetry. Some of the folks pointed out that this is the business school so the likelihood of these students knowing how to work around these limitations is limited. I pointed out that there is, in fact, a computer science department and engineering school on this campus. While MBAs are not so good at technology, they excel at networking and getting other people to do their work.

    The real issue is how we will deal with this in the future as technology progresses. We see the beginnings in the current arguments about giving kids calculators during tests. I imagine this will follow on into issues along the lines of "what's wrong with being able to do a web search during an exam." At some point it will be up to professors and other educators to develop problems which can't be found via a web search. Inconvenient for them, but it will be a fact of life before long.

    Of course, you could just ban technology (PDAs, laptops, etc) during exams ...

  • No good proxies (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:30AM (#2352095) Homepage Journal
    Proxies won't work everywhere, not when filtering software is installed on the routers and all ports except FTP, SSH, and HTTP are blocked. Our school uses iGear(yech)

    Then again, there's always safeweb. the firewall resticts the site, but using HTTPS circumvents it.

    I'd reccomend VNC, telnet with Lynx, or TCP/IP over HTTP.

    • Re:No good proxies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:48AM (#2352179) Homepage Journal
      Please, it's much easier than that. Bring up a PPP link through SSH [] and set up a VPN between your laptop in class and your desktop computer in your dorm.

      Then just route all non-school addresses to your PPP link and you're done.
      • if they were listening in class instead of surfing the web, they might KNOW this!

        It's been a while since I've looked at CS programs, is that sort of thing still too hands on for them? They never went into such topics back when I was in school, but back when I was in school, a network was the people you knew.

        • In my CIS program, anything hands-on at all was outside of the scope of discussion for all of my classes. We were never taught anything relating to any programs... hell, on the first day of school freshman year, it was assumed that we knew what text editor we were using in Unix for C++ programming. Granted, something like this would slow down an "Intro to Comp Sci" class greatly, but there were no references, or even advice for references, given by anybody.

          Your best bet to learn anything was to go to the nearest Borders - about a half hour drive away, and no Barnes and Noble anywhere even close - and pick up the best book you saw. Or, you could gamble even further, and choose one off of to be delivered. Our professors, when asked for advice about picking out books to learn ANY subject, generally just said "Well, get any book you can find, it should be good enough."

          My favorite was my Databases class... and thank god I knew SQL already. The syntax in the book was just plain WRONG and would not work in Oracle even though that's what the book was written with... the syntax was like pseudocode, except it was supposed to really work! Then the professor gave us the first assignment and told us the class before it was due, "Well, you should be able to figure out stuff within Oracle to reconcile commands with what's the book... just use the help command and you can get help on anything." This would have worked had the school renewed the help license... however, it was deemed unnecessary, and the help file was blank. The professor was politely informed of this by the entire class on the due date of the assignment. His response? "Really? Interesting. I'll have to look into that." The helpfile was never restored, and I spent more than half the time on all my projects searching vigorously for SQL help and examples on corporate sites and other universities' web pages. I remember the first project took me 9 hours of looking up commands and 1/2 hour of actual work.

          I would say that my school is bad like that, and it is a special case, but I've heard similar horror stories elsewhere.
  • Of course, a lot of classes do (and will) require Internet access -- the article is more about steps taken to control exactly when and to what degree students can reach it.

    Well I, for one, think that it's about time. Now that we've all stopped crying hysterically about how grade schools need unfettered, full access to the Internet (for God knows what), a school has noticed that it might be beneficial to students to only allow them to access certain sites.

    What?! I can't access Hotmail and IM my buddies in physics class? Oh no! I've been censored! [sarcasm off] Maybe if we put the focus on learning again today's high school and college graduates could get a little education while they're at school.

    And Timothy, serves you right for posting a topic from "SkewlD00d" and posting a bogus link. Your anti-censorship head is crammed so far up your anti-censorhip, uh, shoulder, that you can't see the cases where it might actually be useful.
  • ... when you leave college, many of you will take on jobs in places that have firewalls, restricted domains and confidentiality agreements.

    Is this censorship ? Well, yes and no. It means if I want to do something that the firewall prevents, then I have to wait till I get home and do it on my time, on my machine on my nickle.

  • "some classrooms at Bentley have technology that allows teachers to capture a student's e-mails or instant messages and display them on a large screen for the whole class to see. this lesson will be: We don't respect your privacy.

    Would those promulgating these lessons be as ready to open up their own private lives to public examination?

    More importantly, their current class of students will be in charge of running everything about 25 years from now.

    Is this manner of running roughshod over individual privacy how they would want those students to run the country in the future?

    • Well, no.

      This is more on the lines of the teacher confiscating notes being passed between students in class and reading them aloud for the whole class. Or requiring two giggling students in the back of the class to share the joke that they found so funny with the rest of the class.

      The point is to embarass the hell out of the students doing crap they shouldn't be doing in class by holding them up to public ridicule. Obviously, you never went to elementary or high school, or it was so long ago you've forgotten you were ever a child.

      • Obviously, you never went to elementary or high school,

        I don't believe public ridicule and embarrassment are any more appropriate now than when I was young.

        As near as I can tell from the article, we're talking about college students here.

        If they're not going to behave responsibly, they'll get what's coming to them without these heavy-handed tactics.

        If they want to pay tuition for the right to surf porn in math class, let them.

        If they want to send instant messages instead of pay attention to the lesson, then let them.

        They won't last long if they don't exercise responsibility. Frankly, elementary and high schools should require enough dedication and diligence that this should not be a problem in any college worthy of the name.

        And that's my main point: the students should learn to exercise their own responsibility and to take consequences for their own choices. If you don't trust them to do that and think measures like this are in order, then I wish you good luck in finding a totalitarian state in which to live, one where the authorities are more enlightened than most of the people in this world.

  • by sid_vicious ( 157798 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:42AM (#2352153) Homepage Journal
    The prevailing argument for not restricting access seems to be "I've paid the money - if I don't want to learn, I should be able to distract myself in any way I see fit."

    Having been in a classroom that was wired and unrestricted (I took a UI class at college where all 30 students had a PC hooked up to the Internet), I can say that it is VERY distracting when other people are clicking and clacking and surfing the web while the professor is talking. It's certainly your right not to learn if you don't want to - heck, you're just improving my grade - but keep it in the dorm room where you don't bother those of us trying to learn.

  • ... even though you shouldn't be screwing around in class anyway. HTH, HAND. Mod up whoever was talking about college as a service provider.

    I'm also greatly amused by the technological equivalent to "Bring your note to the front of the class and share it with everyone". I still don't want to see that on a computer I own.


  • We're talking about adults, paying for their education here. If they need a nanny, kick them out and send them home. If a college can't trust students to manage their time on their own then they are doing them no favors.
  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @09:49AM (#2352183) Homepage
    Two colleges on the cutting edge of Internet technology are now pioneering solutions to a rapidly growing problem: students who pay more attention to their computers than to their professors.

    Hold on, this isn't elem. or high school. This is college. The students are adults. If they want to piss away thier education by NOT paying attention to their professors that's their problem. As long as thier not disturbing class (or using the technology to cheat) who gives a crap if they pay attention or not. They'll reap the benifits of their lack of attention.

    I used to teach math in college. If you were a student who was interested, came to class, put forth an effort I'd bend over backwards to help you learn [I love teaching]. BUT, if you never came to class, didn't give a shit and did badly on homework/tests I had no problems failing you. Like I said, these are college students. They are adults.
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:01AM (#2352224)
    Shouldn't someone point out to this university that intercepting and displaying email you are not a party to is still a federal offense (ECPA - Electronic Communications Privacy Act)?

    Your boss can do it because, technically, you're acting as an agent for the company and all email sent to/from your work computer should be done on behalf of the company.

    Your ISP and university can block spam, strip executable attachments, etc., because the filtering can be done because 1) it serves an important public need and 2) it can be done in a mechnical manner that does not require human intervention.

    But students are not "agents" of a university, they are customers. Universities often impose rules that skirt (or outright break) the law, especially for students living in the university-provided housing, but I'm not sure that they can make any blanket assertion of the right to intercept all email sent through their system. E.g., many non-traditional students will attend class with personal or company-provided laptops which may attempt to send previously queued, but unsent, confidential material that will be transmitted once a network connection can be re-established. If the university doesn't want to allow such communications, they can block outgoing SMTP ports. While it's technically possible to configure a system to only send mail when connected to some networks, it's non-trivial and rarely done in practice.

    I don't recall if ECPA covers "instant messages" explicitly, but seems more likely than not to be considered protected than not since they are not broadcast.

    (IANAL, but familiarity with the ECPA should be considered required knowledge for anyone with system administration duties.)
  • If you go to class to surf the web, why the fuck are you even in class?

    - A.P.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:09AM (#2352269)
    I used to teach at a major university. If students are not paying attention to what's happening at the front of the class, I would much prefer they leave and go elsewhere. This is not so much because I care about what they are doing to themselves, but that I care about what they are doing to others who *are* interested: Students reading a paper or sleeping are distracting to the instructor and (worse) they are distracting to other students. If students were surfing the Net they would be even more disruptive. Should instructors and the class need to worry about someone hitting a webpage that plays music in his class ? Should the university worry about possible lawsuits stemming from students viewing pornography (inadvertently or otherwise) and offending others?

    Teachers commonly prohibit behaviour like chewing gum and talking in class and can throw students out for doing so precisely because this behaviour can disturb the class. So why in these cases are civil liberties people not running around crying about abridgements of freedom of speech ? Because even they understand such activity is only detrimental to everyone involved.

    A little sanity and a little less arm-waving, please.
      • If students are not paying attention to what's happening at the front of the class, I would much prefer they leave and go elsewhere

      Absolutely. I've wranged lab classes and completely agree. Kick the wasters out and give the time and resources to the people who give a fuck.

      But what's the connection with this situation? You can throw people out right now for screwing around. Putting in technical blocks (rather than holding them responsible for their actions) just gives them something fun to hack.

  • See, the thing is: a classroom isn't a democracy.

    And good thing too.

  • by ( 114827 ) <> on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:21AM (#2352312) Homepage
    Once again, bureaucracy takes the simple, obvious, ham-fisted approach by making a technical "solution" to what is a social problem. It's commonplace in business, so it's not surprising to see it spread to education.

    It's short-sighted to think that once the net access is cut that students will pay attention. The net use is a symptom, not a disease. People will always find a way to goof off if they want. No net? Just doodle.

    It's not much different than the poor IS guy who has to go on a seek 'n' destroy mission on all N-hundred company PCs for C:\WINDOWS\SOL.EXE because Upper Management decided that people were spending too much time playing solitaire. The IS guy's time is wasted, and the benefit to the company is negligible, since lazy workers find other things [] to waste company time with.

  • Stupid crap like this is why I dropped out of college. Colleges seem to have this idea that I should give them a huge amount of money, and they will tell me what to do. Somehow that seemed a little backwards to me, given that in just about every other situation where I give someone money (Not including taxes.), I get what I want, when I want it, in return.
    • Re:College sucks. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bluesninja ( 192161 )

      This is the reason blind consumerism is ruining higher education.

      Just because you paid your money doesn't mean that you don't owe respect to the people around you, and the teachers who are trying (in vain, apparently) to instruct you.

      Thanks for dropping out.


  • The college I'm attending, Duquesne University [], has a more draconian policy [] aside from disallowing net access in class. Here are a few of the features of one of the nation's "most top 10 wired universities".

    * Multiuser operating systems are banned. No form of *nix can be run on our network. Reason: "Linux can be used as a hacking tool."

    * No server of any kind including HTTP, Telnet, ssh, etc. can be used.

    * Students are permitted to HAVE one computer per resident in dorms. If more than one computer is FOUND in a dorm, the owners access is revoked.

    * Students must have a CTS certified NIC. (In otherwords, it MUST be a 3Com.)

    * Students may not possess or distribute files with a ".mp3" extention. This is copyright infringement. (Napster's ports are also banned, btw.)

    In actual practice, the policy is a lot worse than this. The people at our "Computer and Technology Services" are so absolutely clueless that they aren't quite sure when a policy is "broken", so they err on the side of paranoia. For example, I have known other students here using Linux, nmap'ing their own ports to check security and gotten nailed for using what CTS called an "illegal hacking tool".

    These total idiots [mailto] basically ban anything they don't understand and leave students reeling in the wake of it. Technology gifted students can't bring more than one PC (if you have a laptop for example, you can have it on the wireless LAN that's SLOWLY becoming available, IF you give up your PC's connection) and they cannot enjoy hosting services to the rest of the world (running internet daemons gets you called down for a warning - further violations result in suspension of access and a visit to our judiciary committee).

    If your college only blocks net access in classes, consider yourself lucky. Hopefully their network policy hasn't banned free speech while I wasn't looking.
  • Bentley, which in 1985 became one of the first U.S. colleges to require undergraduates to have computers, first implemented the blocking technology in classrooms in the last academic year. Babson had a primitive version of the software installed three years ago.

    Is that supposed to read 1995 instead of 1985? I can't imagine why any college would have required all students to own a computer way back when net access in the classroom was only a dream.

    Net access in the classroom is a good idea if the class actually requires net access. Most of my classes had no need of it unless I was doing research for a paper or something.

    This seems like a case of "here's an incredibly useful tool that you'll have constant access to but don't use it when your senile prof starts droning on about his new research paper instead of covering useful information".

    I admit that the tempation to goof off in class by reading /. or Penny Arcade while the prof was talking was very strong.... but perhaps a little in-class lesson on proper usage at the start of the year would cut down on the misuse. It's better than cutting off Net access altogether right?

  • by John Murdoch ( 102085 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @10:44AM (#2352412) Homepage Journal


    IANAL-BIAAP (I Am Not A Lawyer But I Am A Professor). The AP article and the sources the writer quotes at Babson are being, um, polite.

    All of you have probably heard of "research services" on the web where students can download papers. This, as you might imagine, scares the wits out of professors--is this brilliant, trenchant insight into the financial impact of the introduction of telegraphy into the American West in the 1870s the product of your dilligent research and extraordinary writing skills? Or am I reading a paper you grabbed off the night this morning for twenty bucks? (Yes--fraternities had and have libraries of course material, but that's much easier to detect.)

    What Babson is trying to deal with is a variant of the same problem: if I ask a question in class, I don't want students looking up the answer on Google. If I give a quiz in class, I particularly don't want students using Instant Messaging clients to share answers. (I haven't seen this happen in my class--but I'm on the Technology Committee of the local school district, and a half-dozen high school kids were caught doing precisely this.)

    This isn't a free speech issue: this is a matter of preventing people from cheating.

    John Murdoch
    Adjunct Lecturer, DeSales University []

    • My wife is an English professor and she loves the online essay providers. She loves the way she can simply load the RTF file she requests from her students into EVE and watch the computer tell her which students she needs to drum out of college (she averages around five or six a semester). She also uses google to search for phrases that don't sound like the students work. Take a look at the Essay Verifacation Engine (EVE) at

      As for using google to answer questions, well if your questions are so simple or fact based that google returns a good answer in a reasonable amount of time then your question was bad. Good questions require thought and processing.

      Quizes and tests are a different matter altogether; computers should be on the floor with the book(s) unless it is an open book test.

      The thing to remember about cheaters is that they are lazy (and I am not talking about laziness as a virtue here). They tend to fuck up and get caught.

      The only people who fear technology are those who don't understand it.
    • What's a graduate gonna do at his job when he runs into a problem he doesn't know the answer to? Hop in IRC, send a IM to someone who might be able to help, search on Google, post to Usenet...

      Why is this considered cheating? I don't get it. This is exactly how real people go about solving real problems in the real world.
  • So far, no tech-savvy student has been able to crack Bentley's or Babson's software, according to Knutel and Aieta. Aieta plans to ask his students to try to crack the program in order to test its security, figuring that's what they'd be trying to do anyway.

    Yeah, who's gonna take that bait. I break the security and then get expelled for screwing with School property.

  • Why stress over it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SpamMan372 ( 413662 )
    Why should professors worry so much about this kinda stuff? In the past do you remember college professors getting pissed over doodling or daydreaming? In high school, its different, everyone has to be there, and its almost the teachers job to mold every student into something. But in college, its different, their should be mutual respect from the student and the teacher.

    Maybe the professors are pissed that some students can still do this (surf, IM) and still pass the class, which is up to them to deicide how to form their classes. But hands down, the college already has your money, what the hell should they care what you do? Our advisor said it best "We HAVE your money now...thats the easy STAYING here is the hard part"
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @11:14AM (#2352573) Homepage
    Taking their cue from kindergarten (a German word; note that Germany was home to the Nazis) classes, many colleges are now requiring students to "raise their hand" before speaking during class. Civil libertarians are outraged. "This procedure will have a chilling affect, a chilling...affect...on discourse in the very institutions that were founded to encourage it," an ACLU spokeswoman stated. When asked whether the ACLU would file suit, she refused to comment. "This is a violation of my first amendment rights!" complained a stupent at a major university. "I should be able to discuss last night's episode of 'Friends' any time I want to! Fascists!"
  • by Dast ( 10275 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2001 @11:23AM (#2352626)
    You might stop the stupid people.

    But if you have access to the school's internal network--you can ssh to one of your probably several university shell accounts--you can get out. And for the most part, there isn't anything they can do to stop that. Do your pr0n surfing, etc from another machine. I doubt the prof has a button to turn off all of the traffic going out of the campus.

    They say the prof can capture e-mail and/or IM and display it. I have to imagine that isn't a very robust system. Maybe just consists of packet sniffing? That probably won't be useful if you have ssh'ed into another machine and send your mail/IM from there.

    So maybe they could shut down ssh on school machines. Well, if you live in a dorm, set up ssh on a different port on a machine there and ssh into that. You could have all kinds of fun with that.

    The list of ways to get around this kind of thing goes on and on, and IMHO you will probably learn more about networking than you might from a monotone prof. You get out of class what you put into it. If students don't care enough to pay attention, I say let them fail, and if they can pass anyway, let them pass.
  • Clackity Clack? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Everyone keeps mentioning this deafening keyboard clicking that keeps them from being able to learn anything. Most "web surfers" I've seen in classrooms click a for a few a for a few minutes...type "" and read their email for a few minutes.

    Is that any more or less distracting than a roomfull of flipping notebook/textbook pages every minute?

    It seems there are knee-jerk reactions in both sides of this argument. Everyone is either "No net censorship! Damn the DMCA(?) !" or "These sonic-booming keyboards with the ultra-loud clicky keys are preventing my education!"

    Maybe if you can't handle reading with keyboard/mouse noise in the background, you have deeper issues? How do you ever plan on working at a real job with a room full of keyboards all going at once?
  • that IM is an irresistable force - this is the modern equivalent of students who carve the desks, plus imagine you were trying to teach with a tv in the corner with mtv on... i don't care who you are or what you're presenting, you're toast. in a Mac lab, you can at least run ANAT and lock all the screens with a message ("pay attention")... i have successfully taught web-centric courses, in a lab, with engaged students, with a whiteboard also, and then came along IM technology and streaming video and it basically sucks the eyeballs out of any class. undergrad, that is - the grads have a little more balance. add to that dual T1s that slowed to a 56K effective speed thanks to napster downloads, and you're ready to get out the paintball gun. we don't let students bury their nose in the NYTimes, listen to CDs, eat a five course meal in class, why shoud this distraction be any different? our wires, our rules. don't like it? stay home and surf, or take an online course. or get a life.

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks