Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse
School District Options for Providing Access to Appropriate Internet Content
The Consortium for School Networking
A Message from CoSN
This project is no longer active, however, the tools and resources that were developed are freely available via this site. This site is also no longer being maintained. Some of the information contained herein may be outdated, and some of the links may be broken.
Since the mid-1990s, the question of whether Internet content should be screened by Internet service providers, schools and libraries has been the subject of hot debate-within legislative bodies, before the courts and within those organizations themselves.
The Consortium for School Networking has long argued that the decision on whether to manage and monitor Internet usage, and, if so, how best to do it, belongs at the local level. Each school, school district or educational network is best equipped to evaluate its own needs, based on such factors as community norms, the sophistication of its students or users, and its particular computer infrastructure. The "one-size-fits-all" approach advocated by some political leaders fails to acknowledge that not all schools and school districts are alike, and that a solution that may be appropriate for one school district may not be appropriate for the next. Further, CoSN believes that mandating a particular solution will bring to a halt that technological innovation that has been the hallmark of this market since it first emerged.
CoSN launched the "Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse" project in the fall of 2000 to help school leaders understand the issues involved in managing Internet content. Its goal was to build on the extensive work that the school community had already done to create positive online experiences for children. At that time, CoSN released a briefing paper, the goal of which was to help school leaders understand the technological options that were available to them, and to frame questions that should be considered when making a decision about whether to control their students' access to the Internet.
After the project was launched, Congress passed the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires schools to adopt a technology protection measure to block or filter certain kinds of Internet content as a condition of receiving certain kinds of educational technology funding. Although CoSN has worked to help educators understand their legal responsibilities under CIPA, the resources that are provided on this Web site should not be read as an endorsement of that law, of content controls in general, or of a particular technological approach.
CoSN does believe that every school community that provides access to the Internet should adopt an Acceptable Use Policy to guide users and system administrators alike. They should also work to teach children how to protect themselves online and how to be information-literate consumers. That way, the safety of children will continue to be promoted, no matter what computer or network they are using. CoSN will continue to work with other educational associations to develop resources to promote these goals.
The Consortium for School Networking is a non-profit association that promotes the use of telecommunications to improve K-12 learning. Its members include state departments of education, state networks, school districts, schools, individuals and companies that are committed to this goal.
This project was originally made possible through the financial support of the corporate sponsors identified below. However, CoSN is responsible for creating all of the materials associated with the project and retains editorial control over them. Sponsors provide input and feedback, but the ultimate responsibility for the project's materials rests with CoSN.