Last year and for many years previously, Groton’s internet had been provided using iPrism, a service which provided somewhat reliable, if somewhat slow, internet. It’s no surprise, then, that many people have been complaining about the new system, whose web filter started out incredibly overprotective and is still being cut down to size. The new service, provided by Lightspeed Systems, is a more comprehensive solution which will hopefully provide faster internet in the end.
The speed of the new internet comes with a couple of costs, however. For one, Groton students now must periodically log in with their usernames and passwords to get internet. Also, it has all the limitations of a recently-implemented service; it is currently overly restrictive, blocking such innocuous sites as Google Translate and the YouTube look-alike DailyMotion; many have reported difficulties with getting internet at all through GrotonSecure; and it is still being tweaked to fit the particular needs of our boarding community. However, it is continually improving, due to the ceaseless efforts of the tech office. Students who have persistent issues with their computers or internet, or who want a particular (appropriate) site unblocked, should visit the Tech Office to address their issue. If everyone is forthcoming with their issues and with the sites they want unblocked, however, adjustments to the new changes in the network will be quick and easy.
Along with the new internet came a new, sophisticated method of blocking inappropriate sites: a web filter which, according to Lightspeed Systems’ website, employs a host of different methods to block those websites Groton School (and the State of Massachusetts, under G. L. c. 272, § 28) feels students should not be viewing. These include customizable and editable policies, the ability to block single URL’s, URL’s that meet certain criteria, and single IP addresses. In addition, the system comes equipped with a sophisticated reporting system capable of showing them the activity of each student, should they see fit to parse through it. However, the question remains whether these new-fangled methods–or, indeed, any power the School or the tech office can bring into the fight–will succeed in preventing students from accessing restricted material. It was the opinion of most students I talked to that the new system won’t be any more effective than the old one. According to Nala Bodden ‘15 “If [students] want to get somewhere, they’ll get there.” To the eyes of many, no system, no matter how sophisticated, will prevent the resourceful students of this school from bypassing all existing security measures and accessing what material they will. However, the effectiveness of the new filter remains to be seen; perhaps, this time, the tech office has truly outsmarted the legions of students working to circumvent them.
Students will not go without a reward for their pains, though. Internet speeds have increased by at least fivefold, providing better access to all the online resources we use, be it MasteringChemistry, Facebook, Wikipedia, or Google Docs. Given how important the internet has become in most of our everyday lives, and how painfully slow the old system could be when multiple people were accessing online material, this will be a huge boon to every student on the network. Jamie Thorndike ‘14 said that although it was annoying to need to login regularly, he had noticed that is was “much faster,” and added that it was definitely “better than StuPrism.” Given this massive improvement, a period of adjustment and possible overprotectiveness on the part of the web filter seems like a small price to pay.
GrotonSecure, at first glance, appears to be an unnecessary breaking change to a system that worked perfectly well before. However, if we can work together to inform the school of the issues we’re having and have the patience to wait for them to be fixed, then we will all be better off for the trouble.