Securing Sites for Your Students

by Barbara J. Feldman on June 29, 2007

Some Internet sites are “secure”. That means that information sent to and from those sites cannot be accessed by anyone else. The server sends a security “certificate” to the browser when the user logs onto a secure site. Upon leaving a secure site there is often a warning message saying that the user is leaving the secure site. When using classroom computers or when teaching students about Internet safety, it is good to consider site security. It is also a good idea to have a number of secure sites to refer students to.
All school sites, those that end with .edu are secure. This is important when doing research. Teach students to use the school library research sites. These sites are both secure and they focus on real research. Students should be learning the difference between scientific research and popular research. Wikipedia is not scientific research.
For students who are in junior high, and especially those in high school, ERIC is a good site. ERIC is the biggest education research site on the Internet. Not only is ERIC secure, but it contains peer reviewed articles on every topic imaginable. ERIC is available through all library websites that end with .edu.
The main reason for using a secure site is to keep information private. It is especially important to be using a secure site when sending credit card information over the web. Hopefully, students are not using the classroom computers to make purchases. But it is important to teach them that when they do make a purchase to ensure that the site is secure.
There are two easy ways to tell if a site is secure. One way is to look at the address bar. On a secure site, the address will change from www.whatever to https://.www.whatever. The other way to tell that a site is secure is to look for a little picture of a lock. The lock will be displayed the whole time the browser is on a secured site. It is on the bottom menu bar on the bottom of the page.

There are two easy ways to tell if a site is secure. One way is to look at the address bar. On a secure site, the address will change from www.whatever to https://.www.whatever. The other way to tell that a site is secure is to look for a little picture of a lock. The lock will be displayed the whole time the browser is on a secured site. It is on the bottom menu bar on the bottom of the page.
There are a number of sites that allow teachers to set up secure areas for their classrooms. If a teacher creates a secure site, that site can be use to communicate with the whole class via email. It can also be used to communicate personally, to post web links, to post files, and to create a class message board. Teachers can enroll parents on the site and share information with parents. Even student grades can be posted, securely, on these sites.
Some sites are available through the schools. One of the more popular programs is WebCT but information for an individual school can be found at the school library. Other programs the teacher can access include “bigchalk” at www.bigchalk.com, “my school on line” at www.myschoolonline.com, and “school notes” at www.schoolnotes.com.
Teachers should not just use secure sites but also teach about secure sites. Teachers can show students how to tell if they are on a secure site. They can also stress the importance of using a secure site when making a purchase. They should talk about passwords and the importance of keeping passwords secret. Most secure sites require the use of a password and most people use the same password for every site. It is often related to the users’ real name and therefore easy to guess.
A secure site loses all its power if the username and password aren’t secure. Teach students to protect their passwords. Passwords should never be stored electronically. Because of this, it is important that students don’t use the “remember password” function. It is also important that they do not type a password into a program that displays the password. Any safe site will display stars or dots in the place of the symbols typed into the password field.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Securing Sites for Your Students." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 29 Jun. 2007. Web. 18 Jul. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1058/securing-sites-for-your-students/ >.