Classroom Internet Use: Limiting Distractions with Teacher Control
Since the big push for 1-to-1 iPads in classrooms started, educators have looked for the best ways to incorporate cutting-edge customized learning but narrow Internet time to relevant material.
Tapping the best of online educational resources, but keeping kids from distracting sites, takes some work. Quite frankly, trying to find that balance can cut into valuable teaching time. NetRef is changing that by giving teachers control of what sites are visited in class and when.
NetRef is a software program that empowers teachers to manage Internet access for students, in order to make the most of the technology but strip away the distractions. NetRef manages all class devices on the school’s Internet network, including laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and cell phones. Nothing is installed on devices and there is no download necessary.
The NetRef software requires NO downloading or installation. There is also no professional development time that must be dedicated to learning how to use it (or at least not much). Teachers are given simple control over the sites students visit, and those controls can be customized based on individual lesson plans and classes.
Teachers can create lists of safe master website lists, and also ban others, so that students stay on task. Teachers are also able to customize the allowable website lists based on the current lesson. For example, if a teacher wanted students to only be allowed to go to Khan Academy during a particular class period, he or she could make that setting for all of the students in the class in two clicks. As long as that setting is on, the only website students can use is Khan Academy, and they don’t have to worry about students going to inappropriate or time-wasting sites. At the same time another teacher in that same building could turn off the Internet for students while they worked on pencil and paper only assignments.
NetRef offers an easy way for teachers to ensure students are staying on task without actually looking over their shoulders. Teachers can see what sites students are on in real-time — and can also see if a student is not on the school’s Internet connection at all. For example, a student who uses a cell phone hot spot to skirt the school connection will show up as being offline on the teacher’s dashboard. The teacher can then instruct that student to get on the school network and start doing the work at hand.
The real-time management aspect of NetRef is certainly impressive, but the software also comes equipped with many helpful reporting tools. Teachers can pull up statistics on which sites individual students are visiting the most. That information is time stamped, so a teacher can determine if students stayed on task and how long a specific site was utilized.
That information can then be passed along to parents, particularly if there is a site that is helping the student succeed. Administrators are also offered reporting options that quickly show how often NetRef is being utilized, and what sites are helping the learning process the most in a particular class or school.
I got the chance to demo NetRef and was really impressed with both the simplicity of the concept, and the sophisticated reporting features. The last thing teachers want is another EdTech program that takes hours to master; NetRef gives teachers control in an intuitive way.
To learn more about incorporating NetRef in your classroom, visit Net-Ref.com.