Announced by the Howard County Public School System on February 28th:
Effective Monday, March 1, 2021, video streaming services—such as Netflix, TikTok, Hulu, Showtime, Snapchat, Tumblr, Xbox live, Fortnite and HBO—will no longer be accessible on the HCPSS network or on HCPSS-issued devices. These services are not approved instructional technology sites and use of these sites has created network performance issues.
Currently, non-instructional websites account for 65 percent of HCPSS network usage and present potential security risks. With the increased network demands for hybrid learning and the increase in the number of technology devices being used on the HCPSS network, staff and students are experiencing buffering during some of their hybrid instructional sessions due to users accessing these non-instructional sites during school hours. The use of non-instructional video streaming services is one of the major contributing factors for the reported internet performance issues.
HCPSS will continue to monitor our network usage and make adjustments as we seek to provide all staff and students an effective instructional experience that limits lag time and any frustrations related to slow bandwidth.
I understand blocking the video streaming services on the HCPSS network. These sites can be a big drain on network and internet bandwidth so this policy is understandable.
The block on all HCPSS-issued devices is a bit more confusing because “device” is not defined.
- If device is meant as HCPSS issues WiFi devices I get it. This would add significant internet traffic onto those devices that may be costing the school more money depending on the plans the school has in place for those devices.
- If device is meant as Chromebooks then I am not sure why this policy would be needed. You can block those video services at the network level (for the most part) in schools to reduce network bandwidth and students with HCPSS Chromebooks could still enjoy video streaming services at home on their family network with no affect on the school systems network or internet bandwidth.
Have thoughts? let me know in the comments.