Changes to digital systems are invasive

The Beacon Staff

Jackson-Reed’s recent network change from the previous system, iBoss and Gaggle, to Lightspeed Systems frightens us. 

Like Gaggle, Lightspeed filters the content that devices on the network can search for, preventing students and staff from getting off task. 

The new software allows teachers to view a grid of their students’ screens at that moment. This only works for students on the DCPS MESH or DCPS BYOD wifi. Teachers are then able to freeze screens, block websites, see browser history from during their class period, and more. These systems are also able to notify administrators or guardians about any potential threats on students’ devices. 

Lightspeed’s added ability for teachers to see and control their students’ screens is a blatant violation of our personal privacy. 

Despite the fact that this system is still within the provisions of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), we feel that it is an inappropriate infringement. As high school students, we are entitled to a certain amount of respect and personal autonomy. Allowing our teachers to take control of our devices removes our right to make choices for ourselves.

This infringement also undermines the boundaries of teacher-student relationships in a way that could place students in uncomfortable situations. When teachers have access to more of a student’s personal information without their consent, it can lead to them feeling uncomfortable and even unsafe. Giving teachers access to these sources of information takes away the security of their students.  

These infringements will also disproportionately affect lower-income students who rely on school-issued devices. While the system can view all personal devices that use the BYOD wifi, students who bring their own devices have access to hotspots and VPNs which allow them to circumvent the system’s new features. 

While the new Lightspeed system could help school officials detect mental health issues and get help to those who need it, the implementation of even more restrictive software is not the best way to address this issue. Instead of trying to teach students how to responsibly navigate the internet, DCPS has assumed a position of authority and taken away students’ ability to learn for themselves.

To solve the issues of blatant student disrespect, disregard for authority figures, and general disdain for the rules (especially surrounding technology usage), a system of preventative measures must be set in place. 

At this moment, very few teachers have received training for the new software so it is not being widely used. However, we feel that it is important to voice our opinion that while some degree of monitoring is helpful and even necessary, the new Lightspeed system goes too far.