Poor internet access damaging to BCFE

Poor internet access damaging to BCFE
The Ballyfermot Post, December 14, 2007
By Alan Conway and Cian Ginty

Blocking of a large number of useful internet sites at Ballyfermot college will continue despite the restriction hindering our education. Rather than just blocking harmful or subjective content, the ban also prohibits a large amount of websites that are helpful to students.

The call from students to have the internet blocks lifted have been met with no response.  Peter Burke, Head of Computers at BCFE, believes that students need to “grow up” and “deal with” the blocks.

“It has a lot to do with student expectations,” explains Burke. “When they are not in college they may have free rein to do as they please, but when they are in here they have to realise that there are rule and regulations that they must follow”.

But the policy creates a disadvantage for BCFE compared to more liberal third level colleges. And for students who have no internet access at home this widens the “digital divide”.

Burke continues to state that, if students feel  a certain site would be helpful to them then they should contact their course tutor. If the tutor agrees with them then that website will be unblocked in “a matter of two seconds”.

He stated: “It is up to the tutor to inform us if they want a certain site unblocked, not the tech staff. What the college doesn’t want is students messing. They are here to work and not to mess”.

However, all the lecturers the Post talked to on this subject shared the students’ frustration, giving a general consensus that the blocking is a waste of class and research time.

Many examples this newspaper found of restricted sites hindered a wide range of students at BCFE. The video and audio streams of the national broadcaster, RTE, is a prime example. It affects students in the areas of journalism, media, multimedia, radio, TV, music, and film.

The same could be said for the Google-owned YouTube, which is now important to all of the above industries.

Social networks, such as Facebook and Bebo, are also included in the list of banned sites. But such websites can now have an impact in the business world. Facebook boasts leading world companies: KPMG, the Walt Disney Company, JPMorgan Chase, and Johnson & Johnson, as some of its largest user groups.

Blogs of a number Irish newspaper journalists, such as the political editor of the Irish Examiner, Harry McGee, are out of reach due to the broad blocking polices which further inhibits the students’ ability to conduct research and keep up-to-date with developments as well as opinions in relation to today’s media, together with other relevant subject areas.

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