These handy devices have become an indispensable tool for students at my school and until now the teachers have relied on the willingness of students to bring their own USB drives to and from the classroom to complete much of the digital work set in assignments. I know that it is almost impossible to get all of the tasks I set done within our limited computing room time and laptop access, and motivated students use their USB drives to continue work on slideshows, documents and other digital projects. But as these devices have jumped in capacity and power, and dived in price, other complicating issues have emerged.
With the ability to run executable programs directly from the USB drive, students are using their device to store portable applications, run flash games, store sizeable music collections and maintain personal libraries of images and videos. But what is stored is not always suitable for the school environment - songs with questionable lyrics and even more questionable LimeWire based origins, violent or politically incorrect games and video content and the increased likelihood of viruses and trojans being released onto the school network via some of the "fun" applications.
Anyway, my school has been working on a possible solution that still permits the use of USB drives in our school environment. It is not fair to expect that kids use their personal devices for school purposes so we will be supplying a smaller capacity drive (1GB) for purchase at a low price complete with school logo specifically for use between home and school. I'd personally like to give them away but tight budgets and Government tax requirements make that a difficult proposition. Now I am not naïve enough to believe that this will eliminate all potential for the problems described above but it gives the eLearning Committee here the power to prescribe the use of USB drives in our Technology Users Agreement for our students.
Now what I'm also interested in is how other schools have tackled the issue of student USB drives within the school environment. Has there been any risks or problems identified? How have you resolved these issues? Any advice or any holes in our strategy as outlined above?
Image: 'flash-drive' www.flickr.com/photos/76613417@N00/111901487