Districts block plenty of sites that are handy in the classroom. Here's how to get around those restrictions.
If you're a teacher, you've probably read about all the great ways Google+ can be used in the classroom, or how to use Twitter to engage shy students, and if you're a teacher working at a school that bans all those sites, you might feel a little frustrated. Some schools even ban educationally useful sites like National Geographic—after all, no district wants to get sued by an irate parent because their child saw nude pictures taken in a remote village halfway across the globe. But even if your school district bans sites that are educational, there are ways around those firewalls. Whether you're a techie or a novice, we've found four hacks that will get you online in a jiffy.
1) Buy your own VPN: A virtual private network runs on the internet but keeps all of your transmissions secure and away from prying eyes, like that of your district's IT administrator. My friend James teaches in Qatar, where sites that "could potentially show the Middle East in a bad light" or "go against Islam (any site that might have a woman in a bikini or something)" are blocked. To get around this, he says educators simply band together to buy a VPN. You can get a good VPN router on Craigslist or eBay for about $200. Just install it on a home computer, and then you and your colleagues can login remotely from your school site and access the resources you need for your students.