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How can we monitor Internet usage in a classroom?

I am a network admin for a secondary school. Some of our students are accessing the Internet without permission. Our current set up has the workstations connected to a DHCP that is connected to an ISA server, which is administered by a third party company. How can we monitor the Internet usage and only permit usage when it's required? Should we install a switch, a firewall, turn off DHCP and allocate our own fixed addresses?

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I'd start by contacting the third-party and asking them how you can enable and disable routing. They may already have a solution, because ISA can certainly do that. They may require you to call their support desk, though, which isn't much help for you.

You can cut off Internet access with a switch, firewall, proxy server, router, or a pair of electrically-shielded scissors. The real question is, how can you turn it on and off easily from within the classroom? Most firewalls, proxy servers, and many routers, provide a browser interface that you could use to turn routing on-and-off. Even my $100 Linksys home router has this. If you want to be able to turn it on-and-off with the press of a single button, you may need to find a programmer with networking skills, or an administrator with scripting skills.

This was first published in November 2003

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