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6/30/2008
09:20 PM
Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
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Back to School

Irecently learned of an interesting tool for schools and their students, called Web Lockers. According to the vendor, students "can use the lockers to upload homework assignments and projects, send and receive assignments, view graded work, and communicate with teachers and classmates outside of the classroom. For added collaboration, School Web Lockers also provides teacher blogs and message boards (for school-wide or even district-wide online discussions.)"The service providesunlimited data storage for as little as $1 per student; access is, of course, password protected, and the service includes other so-called "security" measures, such as blocked file types, parental sign-in, and the ability for teachers and school administrators to monitor what students are storing. The last two sound more like monitoring than network protection, and it willbe interesting to see how schools and districts view the content produced in such an arena.The courts recently ruled that e-mail messages that are stored on a hosted site are not the property of the company, but rather belong to the employee who sent or received them (the argument being, the company paid for the message delivery service, not the storage, which was unlimited and therefore effectively "free.") Schools are not businesses, and student privacy seems to be less sacrosanct than that of employees. But still, I'm sure hosted student file sharing will lead to its own lawsuits, when students store material deemed offensive or dangerous to someone monitoring the sites.Let me know when you hear about the first case!

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