To those who want to block because of bandwidth: Get a Packet Shaper

Doug Johnson's recent post is too important to pass up. Countless times, people have told me that itunes, youtube, google video are being blocked solely for bandwidth reasons. Not any more.

According to Doug Johnson, packet shaping has become quite robust! (In fact, I want to get one and am calling my vendor next week.)

Here is what Doug says:

“We installed a packet shaper on our network last year. What our packet shaper (or traffic shaper or layer seven switch) allows us to do is prioritize traffic on our network.”

But it was a recent release to the software that made the greatest difference:

But the degree to which we can specify what traffic has priority became more granular with a recent software release. We can now give YouTube (not all Flash) a “Priority 0” rating. The yearbook people can use Flash to do their pages unimpeded; middle school kids can look for videos of fart lighting on YouTube with what bandwidth is left over. (Click on the small image at the left to see a larger version of the control module screen shot.) This has made a big difference.

So, if your district is blocking valuable educational resources because of bandwidth limitations think about using a packet shaper. (Since people will ask, we paid about $15K for ours in a consortium purchase.)

It seems pricy, but I wonder if there are other options. I'm going to look in my SonicWall and see.

I will say that I do not advocate middle schoolers looking for “fart lightning” on youtube and believe that if you have youtube at your school that every computer is directly supervised. I redesigned my classroom so every computer screen is facing my desk. I can see them all (I even put in a “rear view mirror” to see the screens of those behind me.)

Supervision is always paramount when you allow access, however, access is very important for some valid pedagogical reasons.

Go get those packets in shape!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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2 comments

Michelle Gilmer February 12, 2008 - 1:49 am

Our district purchased the packeteer this October. At first, the IT guys just blocked everything. Then with some coaxing (ok I threw a fit) they opened it back up some with the reassurance that I would go to each school and talk to them about “acceptable sites” to view during school hours. After some education, and an eye-opener to the teachers that the students were hitting youtube over 5000 times a day and social networking sites over 20,000 times a day, we have seen a sharp decline in our bandwidth usage. We went from using an average of 14 mbps to an average around 5. Now, to get the good usage up…

Coach Burk February 14, 2008 - 3:55 pm

Another option to view your student computers from your own computer. There are some out there that cost a lot of money, but I found iTALC, although I never used it yet, for free

iTALC

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere