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School Kids Get Virtual Web Lockers 178

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the my-worm-ate-my-homework dept.
Lucas123 writes "Seventh and eighth graders in Tulsa, Oklahoma not only get tablet PCs at the beginning of the school year, but they are now issued 100MB of storage through a hosted school 'Web Locker' system. The Web lockers also include chat, calendaring, and collaboration capabilities, but school administrators can also monitor and track all files uploaded to the system, and lock out individuals for misuse."
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School Kids Get Virtual Web Lockers

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  • Useless... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:34PM (#20454163)
    Any eight-grader who's worth his salt will have an accessory gmail account to keep the important stuff.
    • Re:Useless... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thewiz (24994) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:55PM (#20454435)
      100MB?
      Most kids have thumb drives; why would they want to use 100MB of disk space that can be spied on?
      • by jabuzz (182671)
        Because storing stuff on a pen drive is the quickest way to ensuring it gets lost. They are great for moving stuff from A to B in a high capacity sneaker net. However the *moment* you start using them to store stuff you let yourself in to a *world* of hurt. It is about as sensible as playing in the fast lane of the motorway.
        • Dude, what are you doing to your drives? I've never had one fail on me, and that includes one that got dropped into a cup of soda.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darundal (891860)
        Not sure about most schools, but all the schools I went to, after thumbdrives came out, started prohibiting people from using thumbdrives.
      • by morari (1080535)
        No, most kids have cell phones and MP3 players. A thumb drive would just be too useful.
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "...an accessory gmail account to keep the important stuff."

      Unless they can't access gmail from school.

      100 mB virtual lockers? What are they, zip drives from 1995? 2 gig flash drives are $20 [circuitcity.com]. Why the measly 100 megs?
      • Because all they should be storing is some word documents and maybe some images they're going to use for reports. It's for school. They're not downloading movies and music.
      • 100 mB virtual lockers? What are they, zip drives from 1995
        No kidding! Now, I get 128 mb thumbdrives free whenever I buy a spool of DVD-R's (for, um, data backups of course).
  • Incentive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:36PM (#20454179) Homepage Journal
    And what's the incentive for the kids to use this solution, as opposed to the numerous free one provided, which won't have the big brother sees you problem?
    • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:46PM (#20454311) Journal
      Um, feeling like Ender? That's the only one I can come up with...
    • Well for one, if they're storing their homework there, it's timestamped, and if the system fails, the dog really did eat it, and the teacher isn't going to crap down their neck. For two, it's likely to be at least partially integrated with the grading system, meaning that it's likely to be far less hassle for the teacher, meaning that the teacher is likely to require it. There wasn't an advantage to the kind of paper pad my highschool teacher required, but I used them anyway, because it was required.

      Unlik
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        Gee, I guess you didn't RTFA. There is no integration for grading, etc., yet. As for submitting assignments, the teacher has a 1-gig allotment.

        The way to take this system out quickly is for a bunch of kids to all start spreading stories about one or two teachers using the chat function. You know its going to happen. A few kids will post that "Mr. Brown" keeps asking them to spend extra time with him after school doing research and

        • they all ended up getting drunk and high
        • he kept trying to "touch" them
        • g
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657)

        There wasn't an advantage to the kind of paper pad my highschool teacher required, but I used them anyway, because it was required.

        The big difference being that the school didn't have and didn't exercise a right to read through everything written on school paper. Your love poems to the girl two rows over, and which you kept at home, were kept safe, not only from her and other schoolmates, but from the teachers too. The papers they got to see, they got to see because you handed them over, not because they

        • by guruevi (827432)
          In this world, it seems like that is the whole purpose of 'save the children' and 'columbine prevention'. Getting the kids accustomed to 24/7 monitoring will get them easier switched once we are dead or too old to do anything about it.

          The surveillanced world is coming, just not under our watch because we know how the internet came about and what happened with uncontrolled surveillance by government agencies, just because we value our privacy. If you raise the kids nowadays that surveillance is normal and ch
          • by arth1 (260657)
            I don't know about you, but I plan on living forever.
            And teach my kids that it's perfectly fine to have secrets and that no thoughts are illegal, despite what certain people claim. And if there's something they think I should know but they don't want to tell me, they're better off telling me anyhow, or things will just be much worse when I find out. But they have a right to privacy -- from me, from teachers, from governments, from lovers and from god herself. If they want to lock their doors, write secre
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      The web locker [schoolweblockers.com] isn't just a file storage space. It's where students download assignments, upload homework, collaborate with other students, etc.

      Of course any technically clueful student will have a thumb drive, unofficial email and IM accounts, and lots of other places to stash/do stuff they don't want teachers and parents to know about. (Though not all students are technically clueful, and the school will try to prevent such unmonitored activity.) But all the stuff they're supposed to be doing will li
      • This school portal idea (which is kind of obvious/inevitable) is less interesting than the laptop program itself. There's still a lot of argument over whether laptops for this age group are a boon or a distraction.

        I think the problem is it can be both for different people, or even the same person in different circumstances.

        I'm horrible at handwriting, I hate doing it, and would have done a lot better in school had I typed everything, been able to copy/paste and arbitrarily reformat documents post-writing,

    • Re:Incentive? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SamP2 (1097897) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:34PM (#20454957)
      Umm, maybe the same one as when in the workplace you are given a corporate email?

      This big brother paranoia is going through the roof on /. Nobody is forcing students to use the mail/file system for their own private stuff. But just like in the workplace, where for official business you use corporate resources, in school you are given *for free* school resources to store your notes, homework, projects, or anything else school related.

      Some advantages:

      - Local storage means much faster access times than external provider
      - School bears responsibility for system upkeep - if it fails, you have a legitimate reason to not produce your homework or project that was stored or submitted there.
      - System can be integrated with class notes and announcements, and the calendar can be used as school agenda - student logs in, sees the courses he's taking, and sees the homework assigned to him in each course.
      - With login information tied to student IDs, it is much easier to track assignments and work going through the system for administration and teachers, you don't need to wonder who submitted the work coming from email s3xyb4b3@gmail.com.

      And YES, you will get in trouble if you download pr0n or pirate music using the system... Just like you would at your workplace for doing the same thing using the corporate system. If you want to send something without being monitored, don't use the school system for that particular message, just as you wouldn't use your work email unless you expect it to be monitored by your employer.

      It's very nice more schools are accepting the high-tech way of doing work. Not only it makes managing assignments much easier (meaning teachers can spend more time TEACHING and less time going through homework), but it trains children to real life, where high-tech work has already became a standard.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        This big brother paranoia is going through the roof on /. Nobody is forcing students to use the mail/file system for their own private stuff.

        That's exactly why the subject of your post is "Re: Incentive?". They want it to be for everything, but that would require a carrot.

        But just like in the workplace, where for official business you use corporate resources, in school you are given *for free* school resources to store your notes, homework, projects, or anything else school related.

        What do you mean "for fr

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)

          the privacy implied by the word locker is false, when school administrators and teachers are given free access without even having to justify why they looked.

          Given that it is a private, Catholic school, they don't have to justify opening your real locker either.

          It's plain and simply an way for teachers and admins to easier go through what the students write and think, without them even knowing.

          Wow. You know, it's possible you're right -- but even if you are, you're still a fool for thinking that clearl

      • It's very nice more schools are accepting the high-tech way of doing work. Not only it makes managing assignments much easier (meaning teachers can spend more time TEACHING and less time going through homework)

        Please do explain. How is it going to be easier managing assignments? Whether an essay is submitted on paper or as a .doc, it takes just as long to read and grade it. Furthermore, you imply that managing/grading/going through homework is not a part of teaching --- so, what is teaching?

        but it trai
      • by pla (258480)
        Umm, maybe the same one as when in the workplace you are given a corporate email?

        I use my corporate email for work-related communication only. For everything else, I use one of several external accounts based on importance and probability of getting spam.


        This big brother paranoia is going through the roof on /.

        As soon as Big Brother shows some good faith, I'll take off my beanie. Until then...


        Local storage means much faster access times than external provider

        You haven't used a school comput
    • by Lesrahpem (687242)
      I don't know about your area, but most of the schools around here have done something like this. Soon after they banned students from bringing flash drives to school unless a teacher "virus scans" them before each usage. They used the web filter to block access to any sort of free web hosting and most file-storage sites as well. The "virus scanner" not only scans the disks for malware, it copies everything on them to a shared drive on the network which system administrators and teachers are able to look thr
    • A lot of UK schools offer a similar service as part of a virtual learning environment. It gives the school a reliable method of communicating with students outside of school, without insisting that they buy a laptop. Important calendar info (lesson times, exam times, school trips?) can be communicated and looked up at home on the family PC, or in school on a classroom PC. It allows access to coursework, online marking, and school educational material from home.
      I'm sure they're not just providing it for
  • Product Placement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:37PM (#20454195)

    The Web lockers also include chat, calendaring, and collaboration capabilities

    And, of course, a steady supply of advertising and "product placement".

    That's quite the story write-up, almost as if done by a PR writer...

    • by vishbar (862440)

      Ummm...where in TFA (or anywhere else, for that matter) do you see advertising mentioned?

      I know the tin-foil-hat mentality is rampant here on slashdot, but please, at least try to have a bit of concrete (no, anecdotal doesn't count) evidence before you go around slinging accusations.

    • by westlake (615356)
      And, of course, a steady supply of advertising and "product placement".

      I don't see any hint of of this on Networld's School Web Lockers [schoolweblockers.com] home page. What I do is a link to to an add-free online demo, using the simplest of text and calendar displays.

  • and the people will want the controls placed on them.

    because it seemed easier

    because it seemed faster

    because it seemed safer

    because I was afraid

    because I thought I had to

    because it was more expensive if I didn't let them do it

    becuase it wasn't worth fighting any more for freedom

    because if I refused, the terrorists would win

    because everyone else was doing it

    a system like this- services for kids in school seems simple, seems good - but it is a wolf in sheeps clothing. These students are being taught to use a
    • Someone thought it would be a good idea to give the kids a file share on the network to store their digital stuff (like classwork, etc.) now they are all using computers these days, and this way they wouldn't have to carry USB memory sticks around (which 8th graders are bound to lose/break/set fire to/swallow - and forget to backup).

      THE SCUMBAGS.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      However, what happens when people grow up and go to work. They will be expected to be on the corporate network and use their file servers,email servers, collaboration, calendering, and other tools. Of course all the files they upload to those systems will be subject to scrutiny by the company they work for. I don't see how this is any different. This is space to work on your school assignments. And as such, they don't want you putting stuff up there that isn't related to your school work. If you have st
    • by stonecypher (118140) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rehpycenots.> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:12PM (#20454639) Homepage Journal

      These students are being taught to use a system that is ultimately not in their own interests.
      Oh for fuck's sake, it's a convenient integrated storage system for student homework to clean the process up for the teachers. This isn't an Orwellian mystery plot. It's not like having this system shuts the students out of other services. The school can't require digital homework delivery if it doesn't provide a baseline so that they know students can fall back on their system if they don't already have something.

      Grow up. Not everything is Big Brother.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        Oh for fuck's sake, it's a convenient integrated storage system for student homework to clean the process up for the teachers.

        Ok, ask some teachers if they would want a system like this if it didn't come with the ability to snoop on students. I dare you to ask.

        I have teachers in my family, and can assure you that very few, if any, teachers want more technical hoops to jump through, more training classes, and more possible points of failure, even if it adds abilities they didn't have before. They're unde

        • I'm a teacher. I would love to have a system where students could easily submit their work for grading. Timestamps are good, too. I don't need to snoop, so long as I can get their homework. Does that answer your question?
          • by arth1 (260657)
            The key word here being "easily".
            Would you still want it if it requires not only you and fellow teachers learn how to use the system, but also teach the students how to use it and help them when they can't, whether it is for technical or wetware reasons? And potentially (which is an euphemism for "certainly") be out of the water when the system goes down, and you lose access to not only a single paper, but all of them, including your own work? When you then have to make up the lost time on your own copiou
            • The question was if teachers would still want a system like this if they couldn't snoop. I answered "yes," because I see no reason to snoop. Your comment is irrelevant to my comment.

              If you asked me if I would use such a system, I might, but I probably wouldn't. I have a system that works (i.e. I can email students, post assignments online, &c.), and, unless the system worked very well, I probably wouldn't have much used for it. A system like the one proposed is not a panacea -- it is a tool, and,
        • Ok, ask some teachers if they would want a system like this if it didn't come with the ability to snoop on students. I dare you to ask.

          I don't need to. I wrote one for the LA county school system several years ago, and it didn't come with the ability to snoop on students. It was compiled, so please don't waste my time informing me about the black-suit Russian commandos that came in behind me and rewrote my code to turn it into SkyNet. I mean, seriously, do you ask whether the new Xerox machine has secr

          • by arth1 (260657)

            I don't need to. I wrote one for the LA county school system several years ago, and it didn't come with the ability to snoop on students. It was compiled, so please don't waste my time informing me about the black-suit Russian commandos that came in behind me and rewrote my code to turn it into SkyNet. I mean, seriously, do you ask whether the new Xerox machine has secret genetic scanners too? Can't a tool just exist for its superficial purpose? "My god, the coke machine connects to the phones, IT MUST BE A

    • by westlake (615356)
      These students are being taught to use a system that is ultimately not in their own interests.

      "Kid Nation" is a fantasy.

      Scripted and monitored by adults behind the scenes.

      The classroom is a supervised environment precisely because kids don't have the experience or the maturity needed to make the right decisions in an unsupervised environment.

  • ComputerWorld Shill (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:46PM (#20454307)
    In case anyone was wondering, Lucas123 (the submitter) is a ComputerWorld shill. Interesting how many "stories" at Slashdot come from such obvious shills.
    • I'm not sure why you got modded down. You're pretty obviously correct.
      • I'm not sure why you got modded down. You're pretty obviously correct.

        Actually, this very activity - shilling stories to blogs as a part of a calculated advertising / PR campaign - would make an excellent Slashdot story itself!

        • by mazarin5 (309432)

          I'm not sure why you got modded down. You're pretty obviously correct.


          Actually, this very activity - shilling stories to blogs as a part of a calculated advertising / PR campaign - would make an excellent Slashdot story itself!


          You're right! I'm going to write something up in my blog and then submit it!
    • It's a user-submitted system. If you want fewer commercially submitted news items on this news service, stop whining in anonymous comments and start writing stories. Sloth doesn't fix anything; if you want something better, write it yourself. (By the way, you might want to look up what the word "shill" means; if you were correct, which you aren't, he would be selling computerworld subscriptions. Driving news traffic to a news site isn't shilling, as nobody but advertisers are handing over money. Don't
      • By the way, you might want to look up what the word "shill" means; if you were correct, which you aren't, he would be selling computerworld subscriptions. Driving news traffic to a news site isn't shilling, as nobody but advertisers are handing over money. Don't use words you don't understand.

        Websters: "to act as a spokesperson or promoter"

        Wikipedia: "A shill is an associate of a person selling a good or service, who pretends no association and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer." There are man

        • Uh huh. For once, Webster's isn't wrong, although its definition is partial in a misleading fashion, and although it's still an absolute trash reference (you might as well be referring to infomercials.) This man is acting neither as a spokesperson nor as a promoter. He is at no point so much as mentioning his employer. All he's doing is passing on a news link to a news aggregator. It turns out that writing out a URL doesn't make you a shill. Similarly, even though I have an advertisement for a company
    • So if the same story got submitted by somebody other than Lucas123, then it would be OK? But because Lucas123 works for the publication that published it, it's bad and evil.

      So if Taco Bell is giving away free tacos, and your mom drives down there and gets you some, that's OK. But if the guy from Taco Bell drives right up to your house and hands them to you, that's an evil marketing ploy because he's just a shill.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      What difference does it make who submitted the story?

      You have the "what" in your comment, but you certainly don't have the "why should I give a crap" covered.
  • it's a space to put their homework in? I see no other practical use for that. Reading e-books? COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT! Music? Ditto. Games? Not appropriate for school.

    Now, if the lockers were encrypted with TRUECRYPT (and YOU had the key in USB or something), now THAT'd be something.
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Of course, if the kids DID encrypt their files before uploading, they'd have all those snoopy people wanting to know what sort of terr'rist crap they were into.

      If the security is as poor as one system I got into a few years ago (3 attempts to get the default new user password, 1 to get the current school admin password - it was too easy to call it "hacking") ...

      1. p0wn teacher's account
      2. Upload shit like this [trolltalk.com] or this [trolltalk.com]
      3. PROFIT!

      No system is safe from a large group of intelligent, motivated monkeys.

    • by Phroggy (441)

      Reading e-books? COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!
      It's not copyright infringement if you have a license, and an e-book license may be significantly cheaper than textbooks.
  • How many megabytes? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pollux (102520) <<ge.ten.atadet> <ta> <reteps>> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:09PM (#20454609) Journal
    In the past, she said, students were only allotted 10MB of server space on the school's network. "We knew this year [students] would be creating movies and doing other things, [so] they needed a lot more space," she said.

    School admin here. This quote is just laughable. Granted, up until last year, I had my students set at 100 MB apiece. Looking at the quota log, most students could get along just fine with 25 MB, although those who have more usually just have too many pictures saved up.

    But, as soon as we started up doing a multimedia class last year using PhotoShop and Movie Maker, 100 MB was laughable. Some PS projects alone were 60-70 MB, and editing raw video requires ~200 MB per minute of video data. I upped these kids to 300 MB, and when they worked on videos, it was in a separate lab that let students save their data to the hard drives.

    I can understand the desire to have portability for students and staff, but that's what thumb drives are for. Besides, there are a number of families who still do not have online access yet.
  • When I were a lad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:11PM (#20454635) Journal
    Oh how we struggled with the few books we had to carry home while we left unneeded ones in our lockers.

    The frustration of never a moments peace because we could read the books on the bus or train and be briefed ready to start our homework sooner, leaving more spare time that had to be filled with 'leisure activities - or - worse yet - the hassle of arranging to meet your friends and actually see them in person - heck sometimes we even shared a meal or some sodas in a local park - OUTDOORS - whole we worked together on projects!

    At the moment it's a real pain when I have to visit my 7-year-old son's school to have him show me through his project books and explain what he has been working on. Soon I may be able to login to his folder, have a quick browse and tick a box.

    Yay progress!

    • by renoX (11677)
      > heck sometimes we even shared a meal or some sodas in a local park - OUTDOORS

      Well, ironically if you live in a third world country, it would be easier to use the laptop outdoors as the OLPC black&white screen is much easier to read outdoors than traditionnal LCD screens (and it has a higher resolution), too bad normal laptop builders have more or less stopped inovating (the flash disk being the only exception).
  • I've used Class Fronter [fronter.com] since around 2004. Thats...uhm...*counts on fingers*..for three years.

    Class Fronter (or fronter in shorthand) has file uploading space. It got hand-in folders which blocks uploads after a specific date. It got chat. It got games. It got integrated multiple-choice tests. In short; it's a locker with some damn nice features. So why the heck is this on slashdot? I mean, Learning Management Systems, or a "Locker" is nothing new at all. It is at least 10 years old I guess.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Why? Because its, ummm, because ... ummm I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for the child

  • Tablet PCs start around a grand, 100MB of storage is pennies

    Tablet PCs allow students to use computers productively (and more easily) in all classes, 100 MB of storage provides ???

    Tablet PCs have (most likely) at least 40,000 MB of storage, 100 MB of storage has 100 MB of storage...

    I for one think that if teachers are taught to use the tablets effectively, they can be a boon for education, as opposed to laptops, which I find to be virtually useless in most classroom environments in current usage scenari

  • by Erris (531066) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:17PM (#20454695) Homepage Journal

    This brings us one step further to losing your right to read [gnu.org]. All they need to do is fill it with non free textbooks and tell you not to share them. If there's something everyone needs, you don't need to put it in a locker. A private space for students and computer access would be nice, but not if it's just another tool of control. Requiring the use of non free software is just the first part of that control and it's funny that one of the reasons given was the lack of reliability of the old non free software. The web already offers ways to share calendars, movies and the rest outside the control of the school.

  • Porn, music/movie sharing, copies of the anarchist cookbook, test cheat sheets, and other people's essays. It'll all be cleverly stored in compressed, encrypted, password protected zip files (or current equivalent) so snooping admins can't get at it. And if that's not enough, they'll hack the server or other student's accounts and store their stuff in places that will get someone else busted if they're caught.

    At least, that's pretty much what I did with my 200k of high school provided server storage back
  • ehh (Score:2, Insightful)

    The Tablet PC is just plain awesome. If they can get the money to do such a thing, so be it.

    But the "Locker" thing... I've seen plenty of solutions like this. All have either received negative or lukewarm reviews by students (including me). WebCT and Blackboard are the only two I can think of off-hand.

    Really, what it comes down to is that whatever content is posted on these portals (calling a spade a spade) is owned by the school district. If teachers and students post their work on the portal, the schoo
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:42PM (#20455749) Homepage Journal

    More in-depth reporting on this amazing and lightning-paced story, as it develops!

    Wow, somebody got paid for this, as an innovative product. People's tax money was spent on a "technology" for storing files on a remote server. Does anyone else feel a feint impulse to just give up, turn evil, and start fleecing suckers like this? They're out there, and they're waving their money around, jumping up and down, yelling, "Do me! Do meeeeee!!"

    • by loraksus (171574)
      Wow, somebody got paid for this...

      Just paid? Try "paid a shitload". Educational contracts are highly lucrative because a.) the librarian who managed the computers before doesn't know her ass from her elbow and is easily wowed by salesmen b.) it's just taxpayer money anyways.
      Which is why you have a retarded limit like 100mb.
  • I wrote a web storage module for the (international) college group I used to work at years ago. IIRC it automatically assigned 5MB of storage per subject (configurable). It was built to replace the "H: Drive" that was only available within our computing labs and reduce the need for (unreliable) removable storage, ie; Floppy and Zip disks.

    We also had a messaging module, installations of phpBB and MediaWiki, electronic assignment submission, on-line marks entry for the lecturers and a raft of other feature
  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:40PM (#20456971)
    Finally, a virtual place that kids can keep their virtual weed when they're at school.

  • Calling it a "virtual" anything is just a buzzword for the subcents.

    It's a collaboration suite.
  • ? Such as Unix's ~./* ? This feature has been a part of EVERY shared computer system I've ever worked on, and I started programming in 1976. It was considered old hat, even then.
    I saw nothing in TFA that distinguishes this from normal home dir usage. Did I miss something?

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