Friday, February 21, 2014

The Role of Network Admins in Addressing Cyberbullying

Frequently, the most talented technology experts within a school system operate the networks.

They also have teen assistants who have knowledge of both the technology and the students and their online activities.

They can be invaluable in the search for the real cyberbully. By stepping back and watching the chatter within Facebook school groups and triangulating it with what they can locate on the network servers, many cyberbullies can be found and confirmed without having to get subpoenas and go through legal process.

Always make sure that the network administrators are part of the team created to address cyberbullying in schools. They are an often overlooked expert resource.

Valerie Schmitz holds a double Ph.D. in Instructional design and Technology Education, as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership:

“School computer network specialists are responsible for a variety of tasks ranging from simple helpdesk calls to protecting the security of student records. While not always professional educators themselves, these specialists are also being asked to address student behaviors and interactions. Specifically, as our children have brought bullying into the virtual world computer network specialists now must implement tools to address cyberbullying.

Rather than wait until a high-profile incident has occurred, schools must proactively collaborate to implement procedures to address cyberbullying. While school personnel such as guidance counselors, teachers, and administration can be proactive by implementing awareness events, dialogue, or educational events, school network administrators can also be proactive by implementing network secure access restrictions.

Many educational networks are not presently using an authentication system for Internet access. This essentially means that when anyone accesses the Internet it is completely anonymous. Individual teacher and student authentication accounts will require users to "sign in" and take personal responsibility for their actions online. This proactive effort ensures that anonymous cyberbullying is not an option for our learners and that anyone who does choose to cyberbully will be identified based on authentication logs. 

While the problem of bullying and cyberbullying is certainly vast and rooted in many causes, simple authentication is one tool that school network administrators may choose to use as a proactive tool.”

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