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It’s All Fun and Games Until…

How Restricted Tech Access has a negative impact on student education
Ben Maas
Educational videos, such as this one from SFA on drugs, are blocked to restricted tech access users.

There is nothing more frustrating than finding a website blocked, not even stepping on Legos. As it turns out, sometimes this is done intentionally at WRMS. Restricted tech access is a program at WRMS that prevents students from accessing common sites, and some of these sites are required for schoolwork. Students are put on RTA (Restricted Tech Access) when they violate the district’s acceptable use policy. While this might be a good idea on paper, this practice limits students’ learning ability.


As part of my research for this article, I conducted a survey of 100 students at WRMS,


As you can see from this graph, seventeen percent of students said they were on RTA. If we apply this statistic as a ratio, then almost ⅕ of students at WRMS would be affected. That’s nearly 200 students who have a limited education because of this policy.


Mr. Dalrymple, the IT specialist at WRMS, better known as “the tech guy,” shared some information about the history of this policy. “The first person to be put on the Restricted User list was in 2022.  Any violation of the Student Technology Acceptable Use Policy (STAUP) is grounds to be put on the restricted list or have access to a CB taken away.” The link to the policy is here.


 Some of these guidelines are fairly reasonable, such as rules regarding offensive comments, derogatory images, downloading copyrighted material, etc. These violations should result in consequences. However, students are being targeted for the simple action of playing games on their Chromebooks. Because RTA affects peoples’ education, most websites that are supposed to be used by schools for educational purposes are blocked by RTA. One student who responded to the survey said,  “… I’m more upset that it interferes with my schoolwork. Everything from getting assignments done (edpuzzles and assigned videos always hurt) to trying to do research for a massive assessment or paper…” A good example of this is when a teacher assigns an Edpuzzle, a student with RTA can get on Edpuzzle, but can’t watch the assigned video since YouTube is blocked. Edpuzzle does a good job of trying to combat this by switching the link from YouTube to YouTube-no-cookies and then YouTube-no-cookies to YouTube Education. Unfortunately, all those sites are blocked, The student could go home to work on it, but if the family doesn’t have internet access, then the student can’t complete the assigned work. 


This is good evidence that RTA isn’t helping students, but hurting them mentally and educationally. Classwize already does a good job protecting students from viewing inappropriate images, so RTA isn’t really necessary. Limited education leads to limited job opportunities, and limited job opportunities lead to students not being able to reach for the stars, their dreams, and their legacy. Finals are on the horizon, and it will be a bumpy ride for students with RTA. 

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