SPECIAL DISCUSSION -- Opportunities for Implementing Technology in Secure Classrooms

Hello Members,

I am thrilled to welcome you to the special LINCS discussion around Opportunities for Implementing Technology in Secure Classrooms.  Our esteemed guest contributors for this discussion are: Dr. John Linton, Ms. Michelle Tolbert and Mr. Brian Walsh (please see their extended bios below).  

There has been much recent buzz around the introduction of new technologies into correctional education classrooms. Connectivity and access to tablet technology have been the focus of several recent conferences, most notably the Correctional Education Association's Annual Conference titled "Education and Technology: The Pathway to Re-entry" held last month in Washington DC.  At the CEA conference the members of our panel presented an overview of a comprehensive policy report on which they have been working.  The report will address the need for technology in corrections classrooms as well as how such technology is already being safely and securely implemented in some areas.  Our experts will post comments for consideration and discussion throughout this week and next.  Please join the conversation with comments and questions.


Dr. John Linton is the Director of the Office of Correctional Education in the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Career Technology and Adult Education (OCTAE), and a member of OCTAE’s Adult Education team.  He provides leadership for ED’s work involving educational services to U.S. correctional populations.  John also represents ED on the workgroup supporting the cabinet level federal Reentry Council.  Prior to his federal appointment, John was director of the education and library programs in Maryland’s adult prisons, working first in Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and then in the Maryland State Department of Education.  Trained as a reading teacher, John began his professional career as an adult education teacher in a correctional setting.

Ms. Michelle Tolbert oversees adult education projects focused on improving policies, programs, and resources targeting under-skilled adults. She conducts qualitative research and analysis and provides technical assistance to states and programs in the areas of correctional education and reentry, transitions to postsecondary education, workforce development, community partnerships, and state and federal policy.  Her extensive experience in correctional education and reentry includes evaluating postsecondary education reentry programs, providing technical assistance to programs bridging the gap between institution- and community-based education and training programs, and developing a guidebook to support the collection and analysis of correctional education data at the national and state levels. She has also authored a broad array of guides, online tools, policy briefs, research reports, and literature reviews on correctional education, transitions to college and careers, industry recognized credentials, and community partnerships.

Mr. Brian Walsh, M.A. leads the offender education program for Peninsula College at two state prisons in the northwest corner of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Brian believes that by providing quality college education, offenders will be less likely to return to prison and be better prepared to care for themselves and their families. As Education Director for Clallam Bay and Olympic Corrections Centers, Brian started the first prison-based Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program, a nationally recognized curriculum for adult education in Washington State. He has led the effort to expand the use of technology in the prison classroom and worked to develop secure ways for faculty within prisons to deliver offenders the same technologically enhanced courses available to the public.


Hi Ted - This will be a discussion thread, not a webinar, and so yes it will be available to all group members at any time. The discussion is asynchoronous - and should be starting shortly. So it's not technically a "live" event. As our moderators/guests are available they will be monitoring the conversation and posting to the thread over the next two weeks.

The monthly cost of having a secure line for internet based software, the installation of materials to conduct the secure line, and security issues, has made it somewhat prohibitive in correctional education.  With exception of Smart Horizons, which is an online high school, our regular classroom teachers have a difficult time with the newest in technology being available for the classroom. We have Smart board technology and educational software, but our correctional educators are very limited as to what they can purchase as we have to purchase CD ROM based software.  At the FETC, I was struck about how many technology programs were available, but all of it was online with IPAD/Tablet style delivery. More and more companies are leaving the CD ROM style delivery behind and this exodus makes it difficult for our teachers to find new software. It would be wonderful to have the newest and greatest, yes, but security is the main concern.   How do we go about overcoming the daunting security issues involved?

Smart Horizons comes in on a separate dedicated line that must be purchased and set up and has a monthly fee for use. Students can only access the Smart Horizons content. The line is exclusive to Smart Horizons and no other educational access sources can be added to it. It has been used at several prisons in Florida.  It is an online high school, so students receive a High School Diploma and not a GED.

I'm new to this am I in the right place.  Corrections Education?

In the descriptor it mentions tablets.

What kind of tablets?

How secure will they be?

Will they be able to block access to wifi?

Will we be able to add apps from a central "hub"?

What is the projected costs per unit?

Will there be grants available for these tablets?

Tablets would also need to be secured in a very well made protector box.  Our students like to rip apart things if they have the opportunity.  I checked with some vendors as far as locking boxes that could contain the tablets, but the companies I checked with at FETC( Florida Education Technology Conference) did not have such an animal, but perhaps we can develop something for corrections ourselves.  I know without a doubt that this technology can be damaged by an inmate that is having an episode and decides to smash the device.

Hi Suzanne,

APDS (American Prison Data Systems) has developed a ruggedized, military-grade case for their 7' education tablets.  You can see more of the case and device at www.apdscorporate.com.  Some of what we've seen in tablet deployment is that students value their tablets, and the privilege of having them, so they are taking good care of them, and not damaging them.  Obviously, there will likely be times when this does not hold true and devices are damaged.  I believe that most tablet providers have a replacement policy that covers this type of incident.  I know that APDS operates under a lease agreement, so your contract is for a device for the duration of your contract, not a particular, singular device, so if one is damaged, another is sent to replace it as part of the lease agreement.  I think that Union Supply and other tablet companies have similar assurance clauses in place to address this issue.

-- Heather

Heather, Thank you for this information.  I believe this is a great solution to be able to utilize the most up-to-date technology in a prison classroom setting.

Hello All!  Apologies for the delay here.  This is the correct discussion thread.  We will work from one thread in an asynchronous discussion.  The thread will remain at the top of our Correctional Ed Group Discussions board for the two weeks allotted for the event, so it will remain available and then be archived as other discussions are.  

Our experts will join the discussion and contribute shortly.  To get us started, let's consider ED's recently released Technology Mythbuster (excerpted below) regarding technology in juvenile facilities.  As educators -- in adult ed classrooms, juvenile facilities or adult facilities -- what have your experiences been incorporating the types of technologies described below into your classrooms?  Is this a fair representation of what's happening "on the ground?" 



On Education Technology

MYTH: Juvenile correctional facilities that want to expand youth access to technology must be willing to compromise the security of the facility and the safety of detained youth.

FACT: Many juvenile correctional facilities have successfully used technology, including the internet, to broaden the scope of education programming while maintaining appropriate and effective safeguards for detained youth.

Education technology has become commonplace in classrooms across the country. Teachers and students can now take advantage of a world of digital content from curricula to training materials. Both formal research and anecdotal evidence have shown that, when properly used, technology can “enhance the achievement of all students, increase families’ involvement in their children’s schooling, improve teachers’ skills and knowledge, and improve school administration and management (National School Board Association, 2000)." The use of educational technology in secure justice facilities, however, has presented challenges.

The use of technology in correctional classrooms offers many advantages such as: providing opportunities to students most in need and perhaps most able to benefit from such access; addressing a broad range of learning styles and academic readiness; reaching isolated or geographically remote populations; and leveraging limited instructional resources via virtual dissemination. Yet, concerns over security and youth, staff, and community safety often outweigh the perceived benefits and typicaly prevent faciliteis from pursuing options (Borden & Richardson, 2008). In recent years though, States and jurisdictions have begun to explore options for offering their students and staff opportunities to use education techology while maintaining security and safety. Below are a few examples (links will be provided to program profiles on NDTAC’s website—text below)

  1. Indiana: State-run Juvenile Delinquent Facilities, Statewide
    Textbook Online Supplemental Materials via SMART Boards
  1. Loysville Youth Development Center (LYDC)
    International Computer Driving License
  1. Oregon: Juvenile Corrections and Detention Facilities, Statewide
    Oregon Virtual School District (ORVSD)


Borden, C. & Richardson, P. The Effective Use of Technology in Correctional Education. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Reentry Roundtable on Education, May 31–April 1, 2008.

National School Board Association. (2000). Technology’s impact on learning. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/tiol.html.

This dicussion seems to be about Juvenile facilities.  What about adult corrections?  How willing are the adult facilities to let technology in the classroom?

Hello CJ,

There is also an adult focused technology mythbusters that we can discuss, I just chose juvenile first randomly.:)  There are a couple of interesting points regarding tech implementation in both adult and juvenile facilities.  Obviously, in adult facilities the students are more often higher level offenders, or have been in the system for a longer period of time and are considered potentially a more sever security risk. So adult facilities are much more apprehensive  about allowing connectivity into their classrooms without some major security assurances.  However, It has been my experience that, as in many other aspects, there are some individual decision makers at the adult facility level that embrace access to web-based resources in their classrooms as an extraordinary opportunity, and the security risks that come with it as an inevitable, but not insurmountable, obstacle that must be overcome.  As evidenced by work at facilities such as The Montgomery County Jail and prisons in Ohio and Washington State, there are ways in which to securely allow these resources in.

In juvenile facilities, on the other hand, because of our current age of exponential explosions of new technology, which occur pretty much on a daily basis, the younger students in juvenile facilities are emerging as "digital natives" and so have a far greater capacity to work around security structures. But juvenile facilities also more readily recognize that their students, who will most likely be returning to high school classrooms within their communities, will be at a marked disadvantage without access to at least similar technologies to those they will be using in their public school classrooms. So its a choice, a balancing act, between recognizing that technology is fast becoming a necessity to succeeding in our society and maintaining security requirements, and facilities are going to have to find secure means by which to allow its access.

I am working on a project with the Illinois Department of Corrections deploying an internet-based curriculum in 33 institutions around the state. We have been piloting this deployment in 7 institutions since December 2013.

We revised our internet-based GED/HiSET prep curriculum, i-Pathways (www.i-pathways.org/2014), to make it more corrections friendly (secure), which means we took out the links to the broader internet resources, disable the email functions, etc. To connect to the 33 institutions, we carved out a secure network within the institutions and then using similar technology created a secure connection to the servers in our central data center. Essentially, we created a very large local area network (LAN) utilizing the internet.

In the GED classrooms, students can only access the i-Pathways website, but that includes all of its resources. Currently that includes pre-GED and GED instruction, and a consumer education module. But, we will be able to add other instructional components as they are indentified and developed, and then will be available in the classroom. Our curriculum is aligned with the GED test and gives students a chance to work through this new rigorous curriculum in technology similar to what they will see when they take the test.

We chose the internet-based model versus a server-on-site at the institutions to facilitate updates and additions to the curriculum that can be managed centrally for all the sites.

It was a major initiative to get the institutions set-up, but in the seven months of the pilot there were zero issues related to security.

The feedback from both students and instructors is that they are excited to have access to a technology-based instructional resource, both because it is engaging for the students to be using technology in the classroom, but also because it is going to assist when they transition outside the institution. Feedback from students is that they know they are going to have to be able to use computers when they get out, almost every job requires touching a computer, even if is only to fill out an application.

This is a very encouraging experience. With all the myriad of ways to control live internet and configure LANs to allow in only approved sites and their necessary plugins and drivers - which it seems that K12 districts have been doing successfully for some time - there is every reason to expect that correctional facilities be able to implement the same configurations. 

Hello and thank you for your post -- I've been hearing great things about illinois's quest to bring in web-based resources for some time, but had not heard any first hand accounts. Can you give any other background on how this project began and what steps you went through to get to this point? Did the project start in a single facility, or with a single advocate (teacher, administrator etc) and grow from grassroots, or was it more of a top-down process? Do you anticipate broadening the applicability to post-secondary coursework and career certification? 

Thanks again for sharing this great achievement!

-- Heather

Great questions. This effort is an interesting combination of ground-up and top-down support, and patience. I apologize for the long post, but this project has spanned several years, and there were many lessons learned.

We began exploring using i-Pathways in a corrections environment several years ago at the request of an institution-level education administrator. He knew of the i-Pathways curriculum as it was being used in adult education centers around Illinois, but because it was web-based, was not available for him to use in his institution. We explored technical options with him for his site, developed a plan that we thought would provide for the needed security, and that was presented up the chain for review. But it was not approved.

Fast-forward three years or so, there is a new leader in corrections technology and a new education coordinator at the state level. This time, I presented the plan to the state-level folks and they agreed it could be done and would be a benefit to both the students and teachers. I cannot address all of the considerations that influenced the decision process at the state level, only my part in the process. Our alignment with the new GED test and the fact that we were using technology to prepare students was certainly a factor. We were given permission to pilot in seven institutions with seven instructors.

There was some technical set-up that was required both on-site at the institutions and in our data center. That set-up was relatively straightforward. From the time we were given permission to start to the time we started piloting was approximately four months, but that included buying new computers and shipping them out to the seven institutions.

The critical part of all of this is training and supporting the instructors. We have a phone support desk for teachers and students for our state and national deployment of i-Pathways (non-corrections), the question was how do we train and support instructors in a correctional environment (The support for students is going to handled by the instructors on-site).

For the pilot, we provided training on-site, and used a combination of on-going email support and peer mentors sharing best practices. Instructors could also call our support center. We have also brought instructors and administrators together to provide feedback on best practices, offer suggestions on effective approaches to training and support, and to continue to look for ways to keep communication lines open.

Based upon lessons learned in the past six months, we are rolling i-Pathways out to 26 additional institutions starting in two weeks. We expect to have between 3,000 – 4,000 students using i-Pathways on a daily basis starting in September, frankly, it rather exciting to finally get to this point.

For our statewide deployment, we will continue with onsite training, and have region-based peer mentors that will be available to work with instructors as needed. Instructors will have email and phone support as needed, and we will continue to pull instructors together to share best practices. We also have developed a package of materials that we will provide on the i-Pathways website and in a packet of hard-copy materials that we provide each institution. This includes instructional best practices, the basics of navigating and using the system, and a variety of other instructional materials (handouts, worksheets, etc.) that can be used in the classroom in addition to the computer-based curriculum.

We have already started discussions internally regarding offering post-secondary course work, and other tracks or pathways. As i-Pathways is based in a university setting, it seems a natural fit to continue expanding to meet this additional need.

We are hoping to perfect a model of deploying i-Pathways that can be securely housed and robustly supported, and replicated outside of Illinois.

Thank you so much for this fantastic information!  You guys have done an extraordinary amount of work that looks set to make a significant impact in many other facilities across the country. Do you work closely with other Adult Educators (not necessarily Corrections based) in Illinois?  I would bet there are lots more potential cross-over resources that you could utilize once this system is in place.

Our Illinois corrections deployment grew out of our work with non-corrections adult educators both within Illinois and nationally. i-Pathways has been available for use by adult education programs in Illinois since 2002, and we started our national outreach in 2005. We are currently working with programs in 13 states, in five of those states we have a statewide deployment.

Our goal is to continue to add resources to the i-Pathways project, so it is not just a GED or high school equivalency project. In conversations with programs across the country, both in corrections and not, we have been asked for curriculum to work with non-English language learners. We have discussed developing an ELL program that would be a hybrid curriculum utilizing computer-based activities coupled with strategies and activities for the face-to-face classroom. While there are several great curriculum guides and resources available, we see a need for a comprehensive package for the ELL classroom that provides a guide or roadmap for time-challenged instructors.

We have also considered a pre-reading curriculum working in the same manner, a hybrid curriculum utilizing computer-based activities coupled with strategies and activities for the face-to-face classroom. And given we already have framework setup to deliver content, we can add any variety of instructional resources and practice activities that could be used either in corrections or non-corrections settings.

One key feature of i-Pathways that has new relevance in reference to the use of tablet devices in corrections is that when revised the curriculum and technology in 2013, we designed i-Pathways to be mobile-ready. We use a technique call “responsive design” that allows what we develop to function the same regardless of the device it is viewed on. It works the same on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. Obviously, a phone deployment would be inappropriate for corrections, but as noted by the post yesterday from CEA, there are several initiatives underway now using tablets in corrections. A secure wireless environment can be deployed in corrections and curricular tools like i-Pathways can be offered securely.

One thing I really like about your work is the way you have collaborated with other areas to get things done.  Great work!  I also like that you seem to always be open to new possibilities and that you don't give up on ideas just because you come up against opposition within your system.  Do you use any measures to evaluate your effectiveness that you could share?

Here in Virginia, there has been an investment made in Smart Board Technology. All teachers have access to the Internet either in the classroom or in a nearby office. Information can be downloaded onto a USB drive and utilized in the classroom. Many teachers also have "Take home" laptops which they can utilize at home to download whatever they need for their classroom, especially as it relates to smart boards. I teach Business Software (basic computers, Microsoft Office, and Basic business (entrepreneural approach) in a women's facility. Using USB drives and a take home laptop, I am able to administer Microsoft Specialst exams for Microsoft Word. While the students' donot have meaningful access to the internet, we have workarounds that bring the outside capabilities to the classroom.

Hello CJ,

Funding is most definitely always an issue.  Fortunately, the government, specifically the Depts of Education and Labor, are issuing RFPs and opportunities for access to greater amounts of funding for programs supporting technology in reentry and job placement efforts.  Many states are also re-organizing line-item budget specifications away from say, the purchase of CD-Rom style learning programs, to the purchase of an entire tablet or desktop-based solution like the WiderNet Project's eGranary digital library collection, Education Portal's post secondary coursework collection or Union Supply's ABE tablet package. It seems to take creative solutions that move current budgetary funds around to enable the purchase/acquisition of some of these new resource technologies to get a "foot in the door" as it were, and until the benefits of the new resources can be accepted.

I think this is currently the most common way in which technology is accessed in secure classrooms.  There are some innovative states and/or specific facilities that are allowing white-listed sites to be "cached" through a secure server or Local Area Network, but this USB transfer system does allow for students to have access to web-based resources without the security risks of allowing actual internet access.

As the number of resources accessible only via online sites grows, as it inevitable will -- and is already doing as evidenced by Suzanne's post below regarding access to CD-ROM based resources, facilities will be forced to find other ways in which to bring these resources in.  The idea of transferring increasingly large amounts of data via USB will eventually become untenable and other solutions will be required.

Below is an example of how Ohio currently allows access to resources:

Ohio's Approach to Restricted Internet Connectivity:  

␣ Whitelisting␣blocking  all  internet  traffic  except  approved  from   approved  websites  

␣ Websites  are  vetted  by  staff  before  they  are  approved  for  inmate  use  

␣ There  is  no  need  to  update  content.  The  website  owners  maintain   the  content  

␣ New  content  can  be  added  simply  by  adding  a  web  link   ␣ Minimal  Hardware  and  Software  requirements   

(Information taken from CEA Connectivity presentation 2014)



Hello rebker,

I am in a Florida adult institution and do have a SMART board, as well as internet access in my office but not in the classroom. We are not allowed to use a thumb drive, barely are allowed CD-RW/DVD-RW but luckily I do have both. I also teach at a women's facility and we have switched our mission to a Faith and Character Based facility. The department is wanting to be able to have our students certified by a national agency but most certification tests are web-based. I have been working with CIW who has offered to have the instructor as proctors of these tests. The academic education has switched to a web-based GED test, so our vocational administrator is trying to allow us to give the certification tests utilizing the same connection. I have not heard of any resistance to the idea as of yet but from my understanding there may be.

How can we educate and prepare our students for the real world if we are not trusted to provide the proper technology? Desktop machines are acceptable and I provide a LAN environment within the classroom, complete with a domain name for a intranet website. But this still does not provide the resources that are available for my class. I currently teach Digital Design and will be switching over to Web Development. In the real world they will need to know how to design and program for SMART phones and tablets, as well as desktop/laptops. How can I teach accurate information when I do not have the resources or ability to provide server-side applications like PHP or ASP.NET or MySQL and so on? I know how to program in these languages but I am not completely savvy on setting up the server to simulate a real world environment. There is a learning curve that I must have, as well as other teachers in the system, and we must do this on our own as there is no training funds for the instructor.

I teach my students to learn to find information for themselves instead of relying on aides, mainly because they will need to know how to find information on their own in the real world. I came up with an idea that I hook my SMART board up to my Internet connection and show some of the resources but it still isn't the same of doing it themselves, although it is better than not at all.

You are right on in your comments!  Innovators like you are discovering what works, and by sharing your discoveries in forums like this one where government agents and state administrators are listening, you provide a template to those following in your footsteps, and assurances to those government agencies and state administrators that the changes they are making and challenges they are addressing are WELL WORTH THE EFFORT.

I too have a lan environment that I use to provide a web type experience. Unfortunatley, there is no email simulation that really works, A lot of the information that I deliver is via webpages that all students have access to. I try to utilize technology in everything that they do. They access all their files through the server of course, but a lot of the actual information for various topics in the class are Web pages and various links off the web pages. In a sense they are getting used to dealing with Web pages and hyperlinks. This is especially useful to my older students who have limited coputer experience. Even the younger ones, I am finding that their actual Computer experience is limited to social media. Can't bring that in, however, they are getting MP4 players and will have limited email ability, at first within the institution only, and then maybe outside the institution.at a later date. It is still in progress. We are doing the new GED 2014, where the results are uploaded outside the institution. Any major downloads that I need for the class have to be done as the state computer system will not let us download anything through their firewall. Unless you are teaching A+ or systems management as part of a state mandated program, it is not prudent or cost effective to teach inside a correctional institution. I feel your pain about having them do their own reasearch. We have colege classes here and they can't do their own research, so it is definitely a conundrum. The Best answer I have found was in Texas where a youth prison partnered with a University to provide a dedicatedT1 line from their digital publication library. The students are able to do their own research yet only able to access the library and not venture out onto the net. With more and more businesses moving to the cloud it is doubtful that office programs will continue to be placed on CD/DVD Roms. Office 365 is very popular, I use it at home, but it requires an internet connection.It is only a matter of time until our classes are connected to the internet, albeit with limited access. Proper filtering and creative firewalls are the true answer.

Hi, I'm a GED teacher in a correctional facility in Cincinnati. We have internet access in our offices, but not in the classroom.

We're looking for a secure-environment (non-web-based) PRACTICE GED software.

We cannot use web-based software, so it would need to be something that we could put on the server.

Does this even exist, yet?

Thanks so much,

Andrea Farmer



I just looked up Union Supply (thank you to the person who mentioned this) and it looks as if they have secure educational programs for corrections.  I will call them to find out if they have a simulated practice GED test.

There are a couple of options.  If you look on GEDTS's website you'll see a list of publishers (most of whom do not have offline options).  Two of the publishers that do have offline options are Aztec and GED Academy.  Many of Washington State's adult prisons use one or the other. Both incorporate practice tests and instruction.

I do NOT teach in a secure environment, and so there are no restrictions against USB or other technologies - but I joined this discussion because I do not have internet access in several of the classrooms where I teach.

Has anyone in this discussion researched how to access a website without having access to the internet?  Since so many study tools seem to be accessible online, this may prove a more direct route than trying to ask companies to release software in CD-ROM or USB formats...

I know that some browsers allow archiving a website for future offline visiting, but I have yet to find one that allows a Flash or interactive element to be viewed offline.  Anyone have luck with this?

Excuse me if this is a duplicate reply -- my Internet connection "burped" when I tried to post my original reply, an I'm not sure it took.

I volunteer technical support for a community-based literacy organization in a very rural region of Virginia, where decent Internet access is limited to the "larger" (i.e., 1500 residents) towns.  Virtually all of our classes and tutoring sessions are held in donated sites without no Internet access.  To compensate for this infrastructure-caused digital divide, I use the free, open-source HTTrack Website Copier (http://www.httrack.com) to download literacy-based websites.  After downloading, I burn the website to CDs/DVDs, which tutors are then able to use with their learners at locations without Internet access.  The software is not perfect -- there are "holes" in the downloaded websites -- but it does allow tutors/learners to navigate the majority of the website as if they were actually connected to the Internet, download media files (e.g., MP3), etc.  This has been a lifesaver!

I should add that if you are going to download websites for offline use, you should first familiarize yourself with the fair use limitation of U.S. copyright law, which allows educators to copy copyrighted works for non-commercial, educational purposes.  A discussion of fair use can be found in U.S. Copyright Office Circular 21, "Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians."   A PDF of the circular can be found at this link:  http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf

Copyright has long been a problem due to the limited funds available.  www.coursera.org has many free classes developed and presented by major universities around the word.  The recently started a 4 week class on "Copyright for Educators and Librarians".  They are specifically instructing and giving tools to help you understand and apply the US copyright laws as you consider available resources.  It specifically discusses "fair use" as well as the "loopholes" provided for educators.  https://www.coursera.org/course/cfel 

Thank you very much for this link!  I will see how it works in our setting here - have you tried it with any Flash-based websites by chance?  That seems to be a slight concern for interactive websites, many of which are no longer HTML-based...


And thanks for your comments about Copyright issues, I will certainly need to take this into account.

I haven't tried it with flash-based websites, but as I haven't been able to play embedded flash media in sites I've downloaded, flash-based websites might not work. However, because the website data I downloaded was more than adequate for my needs, I didn't bother fussing around to see if the problem was caused by a lack of features in HTTrack or if it was something I could fix by playing around with the settings.  There are also several commercial products which offer a free trial period.  If you do a Google search on "website downloader" and "website ripper," you'll come across a few that might work better for you.

I have entertained the idea that I could have a router within my classroom to add an initial layer of security to block access. I think that cloud technology could be utilized (if programmed efficiently and effectively) to provide some kind of access to needed resources. The curriculum that I have suggested for using in the Web Development class is by CIW but many of the benefits they offer students on the outside is by providing study aides, hands on lessons, and reviews online. I can get the information from them but will need to install some kind of CMS like Moodle within my classroom LAN. I think this would be beneficial in many ways but again I have a learning curve for the actual installation process. Our local OIT person is not educated on providing or setting up this type of service either. I am very technologically inclined but I only administer my Windows 2003 Server and provide a few services, like POP3 email. Most of the web based technology that I use at home is on hosted servers that offer the additional software (like a LINUX server with PHP and MySQL and the ability to install pre-packaged services like Moodle or Joomla or WordPress.) I am capable of learning and will have to set this up once I get the new servers for the new class.

With the cloud setup we could also benefit from the cost of programs, such as Adobe Creative Suites, being on a subscription basis; servers being provided with the necessary hosting management software installed as well as CMS. As you say with proper restrictions in place it is feasible to utilize the available technology within our fences. 

If the DC could go a bit further and begin some segregation of inmates (i.e. do not place a 3 year sentence with a lifetime sentence -- if the inmate is looking at being released within a few years then they should be receiving hard core rehabilitation and behavior modifications in order to become a productive citizen) then perhaps recidivism would decrease instead of propagating further criminal behaviors just to survive the environment. 

At Peninsula College we have developed a local area network (LAN) that is completely disconnected from the internet but runs Canvas Learning Management System (similar to Moodle).  Faculty build their classes in the Learning Management System and students are able to access the courses anywhere in our prison education classrooms.

Just to define some things: we use web resources like Khan Academy Lite, phet.colorado.edu, and others in a disconnected non-internet based classroom.  While students use Firefox or Chrome to access the web resources they are accessing local copies of the web sites.  Widernet's eGranary is another example of this.

This summer and fall we will be introducing Canvas and other web resources at all Washington State prisons.  We will have a shareable version of this server quite soon.

Below is some additional information on the platform Brian currently uses in Washington State.  He can extrapolate, but this is information that was shared through the CEA presentation last month. 


Washington  State  Corrections   Education  Technology  Initiative  

By  Fall  2014,  all  12  Washington  state  prisons  will  have  offline  Internet   networks  with  web  servers  and  learning  management  systems  that   host  valuable  web  and  software  resources  serving  1500+  offender   students  per  week  at  less  than  $90,000  for  the  entire  state.  

Current  Content:  

␣ Canvas  Learning  Management  System   ␣ Khan  Academy  Lite   ␣ phET   ␣ Gutenberg  

␣ CASAS  eTests   ␣ GCFLearnFree   ␣ TEDTalks,  Podcasts,  etc.   ␣ Open  courses  from  edX,  etc.     


␣ Faculty  teaching  on  public   campuses  can  import   courses  into  Canvas.  

␣ Over  time,  using  Open   Educational  Resources   (OER),  prison  networks  will   have  a  wealth  of  content  at   low  cost. 

Hi Amy,

Brian can respond in more detail, but my understanding is that Washington uses cached content and distributes it via a Local Area Network (intranet) system.  The WiderNet Project's eGranary works much the same way, and Brian utilizes a small external eGranary hard-drive for some of their content, but on a larger, and less specifically curated, scale.

You can learn more about eGranary at www.widernet.org/egranary.  It is an offline collection of a little over 30 million resources that have been collected and compiled over the last 14 years.  The librarians ask for permission from the resource owner/creator to include the website (or resource in whatever form it takes -- video (mp4), audio (mp3), pdf, eBook or Word doc, to name a few possibilities) in the collection, then go through the process of "scraping" or copying the site and putting it onto the eGranary server.  The IT folks then copy that collected content onto hard-drives/server towers that can be hooked up to thin client stations or aligned with another server (internal) to go out over a LAN system.

Heather and others,

I am familiar with the WiderNet Project's eGranary and think it has a lot to offer corrections institutions that cannot have inmates connected to the Internet. It uses actual internet resources without having inmates connected to the Internet. Another resource I learned about today, that may be useful, is Rachel. Like the eGranary, it is used in countries where Internet access is unavailable, unreliable or slow. I don't more about it than what I read on their web site, but perhaps some people here would like to look into it. http://www.worldpossible.org/rachel/

David J. Rosen


You mentioned that at your correctional facility you are offering the GED 2014. Can you offer any feedback as to how your curriculum has changed?  What professional development has been offered to staff?  What software company are you currently using?  How are you pre-tesing, on-line or paper?  

Dear Lynnbay,

Hi! We're a correctional facility in Cincinnati. We've had about 10 students take the test since March, and only 3 have passed. The new test demands TABE scores of 12.9 in reading and language, and math, and also includes:

Science:  New information covered includes: Balancing Chemistry Equations, Genetics, Heredity, and students have two short answer written questions, and often they are asked to develop a hypothesis and explain how they would set up the experiment and interpret the data.

Social Studies:  45-minute essay requires students to know the reasons for WWI, WWII, the Cold War, Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam, as well as the results of each war. Students are asked to analyze two quotes from different authors and discuss the quotations in the context of a historic event - i.e. Quotations about freedom of speech from Thomas Jefferson and a copyof an editorial written by a 1970's newspaper editor.  Students are asked to discuss these quotations in the context of publishing of The Pentagon Papers.  Another one asks students to analyze two quotes about freedom of the press by John Milton in the 1600's, and a quote by Robert LaFollette, in the early 1900's, regarding free speech during wartime. Students are then asked to discuss the two quotes in the context of the US's entry into WWI.

Math:  Algebra, algebra, algebra. Lots of FOIL Method and "Age" problems:  If Bob is twice Sue's age, in 12 years, how old will Sue be?

Reading has changed only that there are no poems.



Andrea Farmer, Teacher, River City Correctional Center

Cincinnati, OH