Recently, The Owl newspaper experienced technological problems when the site was blocked for a short period of time. Seymour Community School Corporation provides over 5,700 Chromebooks, but also controls and blocks sites. If the student body cannot even access the sites we need, why do we have Chromebooks?
Whether you are doing a research project or finding information for a class, you have probably come across a black screen with the word “BLOCKED” on it. At Seymour High School, the students are not supposed to be on their phones between 8:30 and 3:30, with the exception of lunch. Although, when doing any research online most students have to ask permission from their teacher to access their phones. Because many websites are blocked on the school’s provided Chromebooks, students must do their research on their phones. The second problem comes when students do not have smartphones or unlimited data. How are students supposed to finish their work when all the information they need is blocked?
In my personal experience, I have had to use my phone or wait until I got home to research topics for school activities. Even though I was searching educational topics that were nowhere near inappropriate, I came across BLOCKED screens. I have also had to share my iPhone’s personal hotspot with classmates so that they could do research on their phones. One specific example I came across was while writing my Cheer article. I was writing about the new Netflix show Cheer, but because I searched the word “Netflix” it was blocked. I was not trying to watch Netflix, but it was still blocked. In this example, I had to misspell the word “Netflix” in order for it to not be blocked upon searching.
Some absurd websites I have found to be blocked include: jacksoncountysheriffin.org, washingtonpost.com, alma.edu (Alma College website), and many more. Although teachers have a Google form that they can fill out to get websites unblocked, it can sometimes take too long or not become unblocked. While talking to students from surrounding schools, I discovered Seymour School Corporation is the only one to block sites this heavily. I understand that students do not need to view certain material on their Chromebooks, but we should have access to basic sites. Overall, I think we need less restrictions on what sites get blocked. I would like to fully utilize my Chromebook, and not have to use my phone to do research.