The Laptop Tracking Plan

The Laptop Tracking Plan

Jessie Munks (School Teacher, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 3
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-492-5.ch003

Abstract

A school was able to receive the “Technology for All” grant to issue a large number of laptop computers for students to check out and use at home. A policy for checking out the laptops was developed that included a software utility to keep track of the amount of time students may keep the laptop, the implantation of antitheft tracking software to minimize loss, the maintenance plan of the laptops, how they were to be insured, and other information. Later on, the school principal had to devise a new plan so that the laptop checkout policy would not escalate into damages and possible lawsuits.
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The Case

Edison Elementary officials were very proud that, thanks to the Technology for All” grant, they were able to give each of their 900 students, a laptop computer to “ensure that all students have 24/7 access to school-based resources.”

One afternoon, Principal Skinner rushed into the library asking for both the librarian, Ms. Trang, and the media specialist, Mr. Larson, at once. He asked them about the laptop tracking software. Both Ms. Trang and Mr. Larson were unsure of what the principal wanted to know about the software. Mr. Skinner asked Mr. Larson to show him how to look up a checked out laptop computer. Mr. Larson then quickly logged into the network and under administrative tools used the “locate” option to find laptop “XM616”. The principal was horrified to see this. He instructed Mr. Larson to shut this portion of the tracking software off immediately. He then instructed Ms. Trang to suspend all laptop check out until further notice. Mr. Larson and Ms. Trang began to question the principal when he explained that the recording or viewing of others’ information without consent is considered illegal. Since parents and students were not made aware of this and it was not in the signed form students were required to have in order to check out the laptops, that portion of the software must be disabled. Even with prior knowledge, viewing the information was still a sticky situation. He called for an emergency after-school staff meeting to devise a plan to prevent the laptop checkout policy from escalating into damages and possible lawsuits.

“Good afternoon”, Mr. Skinner stated. “One of the nearby schools has informed me that we may have arrived at a small problem. It seems the nearby school has an angry mob of parents on their hands and, if we are not careful, we will be facing a similar situation”.

He began giving all the details about how a parent at a nearby school had come to realize that she was being watched by someone while she was using a borrowed laptop from the school. She noticed a red blinking indicator light that would blink sometimes, while other times not. She did some online investigation and discovered that the blinking light signaled that the tracking software was activated and that she was being watched without her consent. Without consulting the principal, she gathered a group of parents and they started boycotting that school. The principal and other personnel got the situation under control but were afraid that the information would spread like wildfire. The principal at the other school tried to save other schools the headache that he was currently experiencing by informing them that they needed to revise their laptop tracking policies immediately.

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