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Weaving a Secure Web Around Education: A Guide to Technology Standards and Security
  Table of Contents and Introductory Material
Chapter 1
  The Role of the World Wide Web in Schools and Education Agencies
Chapter 2
    Web Publishing Guidelines
Chapter 3
    Web-Related Legal Issues and Policies
Chapter 4
    Internal and External Resources for Web Development
Chapter 5
    Procuring Resources
Chapter 6
    Maintaining a Secure Environment
PDF File (1,119 KB)

Ghedam Bairu

(202) 502-7304


The World Wide Web (often referred to as simply "the web") has been in existence since 1989/90, a relatively short time, but it is the most flexible and widely used information system on the Internet today. Even without the web, the Internet is useful for educators and students who can use e-mail and are able to transfer computer files from one place to another. However, with the rapid development of the web, the use of computer technology in everyday life has grown immensely, especially in the classroom.

During the initial development and growth of the Internet, access was limited for most students participating in K-12 education. Today, through extensive community support and the federal Education-rate (E-rate) discount program, Internet access is found in nearly every education community in the nation, including rural, urban, and suburban schools.

Teachers and students want the benefits the Internet offers. E-mail has made communication among teachers and students easier to accomplish. Information from libraries and government agencies is widely available over the Internet, and easy to access through the web. As availability becomes pervasive, more people are accessing the Internet. For many community members, it is the main source for information about their schools and local school systems.

Throughout the United States, state education agencies, school districts, and even schools are creating web sites to reap the benefits of information dissemination and exchange. If an educational organization does not have a web site today, parents, boards of education, and even legislators are likely creating pressures to produce one.

With the growth of the web, the capability now exists for a real change in the way the curriculum is delivered to students. The web has already changed the way information is disseminated within education agencies and the way parents, students, and the public interact with schools.

The purpose of this guidebook is to assist education agencies and organizations (which include state education agencies or state departments of education, school districts, and schools) in the development, maintenance, and standardization of effective web sites. Also included is a detailed examination of the procedures necessary to provide adequate security for the Internet node (or connection point) and the network that sends information from computer to computer in the education agency.

By the year 2001, Internet access was available in more than 87 percent of classrooms in urban and rural schools. (Kleiner and Farris 2002)

Because of the increasing role of the web in education, policymakers today must address many issues that did not exist a few years ago. A knowledge baseline is necessary for these officials and agency staff members so they can make informed decisions about developing and securing computer networks for external Internet access as well as for internal communication.

Educators already understand the imperative of security for students and teachers in the classroom. In this age of technology, security includes the freedom from intrusion via the Internet. Of equal importance is the protection of highly confidential student information and school data from unauthorized access, misuse, or loss, whether intentional or not. For these reasons, this guidebook provides extensive information on procedures for securing hardware, software, and data and for protecting the privacy of students, faculty, and staff.

Who makes informed decisions about an agency’s web site?

No single publication will ever be equally effective in addressing the highly technical needs of network administrators and the basic information needs of nontechnical policymakers and administrators. However, recognizing that there is value in having both audiences share a common vocabulary and a basic understanding of the broad vision of Internet use in schools, the authors of this publication have attempted to create a communication bridge. The first five chapters are intended primarily for administrators. They are written in nontechnical language to address planning, purchasing, policy, legal issues, and the educational value of operating a web site. Technical staff may want to read those chapters to gain a deeper understanding of some of the nontechnical issues and decisions faced by their administrative colleagues. They may also find some ideas to enhance their communication with nontechnical staff members.

At every level, in every education agency, information must be secure.

In contrast to the first five chapters, chapter 6 is written primarily for network administrators and others who are responsible for ensuring that the agency's data are secure and the equipment operational. Much of this chapter may be difficult for the nontechnical reader, but may provide a second supporting source of information for executive staff when they are faced with requests from an information technology (IT) department for specific hardware, software, and procedures needed to enhance the operation and security of the agency's system.

In addition to an even more basic discussion of how the Internet works (see, "What is the Internet?"), appendices and a glossary provide some useful resources, links, and sample documents that can be modified for local use.