High school introduces Lightspeed in hopes of preventing distractions

Lightspeed, the new computer software allowing teachers to block certain sites and view their students’ computer screens, was introduced to the high school in early November.

Principal Kristin Robbins explained that Lightspeed was originally used in the middle school, where more and more students were playing computer games during class time.

“The program was brought up from the middle school to the high school as a means to help students stay on task and give teachers the opportunity to keep students on task from their desks,” she said.

Director of Technology Brad Pettit explained that the idea for Lightspeed emerged from every student receiving a Chromebook during the 2020-21 school year. Pettit, who implemented the program, added that it is a good method for teachers to communicate with students via chat and send links in Chromebook-heavy classes.

“Giving every student consistent access to a computer in the classroom is an incredible resource,” he said. “We know the temptations and distractions that can come with that. One of our goals for our technology plan is to promote digital wellness in as many ways as possible.”

Many teachers differ in how often they use Lightspeed to communicate with and keep students on track, Robbins explained.

Science teacher Josh Butcher said that Lightspeed is effective, as he can block students from certain websites.

“Blocking websites does not waste class time,” he said. “I can track what gaming websites students repeatedly visit and put them on a list of things to block.”

Other teachers take a different approach to using the newly implemented system, such as English teacher Michelle Rogers, who said that she uses the program more conservatively.

“My class is not very Chromebook heavy, and when they are, there is usually a large task at hand, so Lightspeed is rarely something I like to use,” she said.

Sophomore Tucker Welch said he thinks some parts of the program are unnecessary.

“Some of the functions that my teachers are able to accomplish make me feel somewhat exposed,” he said. “The fact they can see everything that I am looking at makes me feel off.”

The only better alternative to Lightspeed would be a lockdown browser, Butcher said. He explained this browser would not allow students to leave tabs under any circumstance.

“I wanted a lockdown browser mainly so students couldn’t cheat and leave tabs,” Butcher said.

Similarly, Welch said if the school wants to completely eliminate games and distractions, they should include a school-designated lockdown browser.

Rogers said some of the responsibility should fall into the hands of the students.

She explained that the Bexley staff’s job is to educate students, not spend a lot of time disciplining those who do not want to do their work.

“At some point, the students must take a certain level of responsibility and not try to get around the software,” she said.

Whether the program is beneficial or not, Butcher said he feels that it is quite effective if blocking gaming websites is its main purpose.

“The program itself is designed extremely well,” he said. “If the goal is to completely eradicate the games that students play on the computer instead of listening in class, it is flawless.”