What are some challenges I may face?
The Net poses several major challenges. The biggest is time management: While the Net is probably the best tool for research ever invented, it is probably also the best time waster as well. It is very easy to get off-track from your original mission by clicking links about subjects that may be educational or interesting but won't help with your particular topic.
Be sure to help students deal with this challenge by supervising them closely and by making them aware of the problem. Many research discoveries have been made by following serendipitous tangents and winding up somewhere unexpected but helpful -- so don't entirely discourage it. Just make sure students are aware of the time and know how to stay focused on the task at hand.
Another challenge is coping with inappropriate material. Obviously, you do not want students (accidentally or on purpose) accessing pornography, gruesome images, and the like. Many schools use filtering software
1 to prevent such problems.
No matter how good your filtering software is, some inappropriate material may get through, either because kids have defeated the software or because of its own defects. If a student is exposed to a depiction of extreme violence or manages to access hardcore porn, he will have intentionally or unintentionally violated your Acceptable Use Policy.
First, you have to determine if the material was deliberately accessed. If so, the AUP will probably let you know what the consequences should be. If the material was accessed by error, you will have to determine how it happened in order to prevent a repeat of the incident.
When upsetting material has been viewed or read, whether intentionally or not, you should also discuss it with the student to determine how he or she feels and what it means to him or her. You will want to be sure that your students feel able to discuss how images and ideas affect them -- and to help them cope with distressing information. Depending on the age of the child, the particular material, and other circumstances, you may want to involve the parents as well.