Schools and colleges blocking content is becoming increasingly common, much to the bemoans of students. The most recent one to impose WiFi restrictions? Purdue University.
The restrictions are being trialed during the first 10 weeks of the fall semester and will impact services such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple, iTunes, and Steam. It’s likely that many online games like Fortnite will also be restricted, meaning students will undoubtedly be turning to apps in order to bypass restrictions and get access to their unblocked games and streaming sites.
For now, the restrictions are only imposed in the school’s largest lecture halls. However, once the 10-week trial is up, it’s likely that other classrooms will also begin blocking content that could distract students.
“I expected to hear back with some mumbles and groans,” said Julie Kercher-Updike, Purdue’s deputy chief information officer to SFGate. “What I heard back was one faculty member saying, ‘How can I get this shut off in my classroom?’…I did not receive any emails from faculty saying that they thought this was a bad thing.”
The students, however, will likely feel different. While Purdue acknowledged that right now students accessing streaming sites and games on their devices is not a problem, the university thinks it might become a problem later in the year as students’ minds start to wander: “It’s too early in the semester for anybody to be actively pursuing other things in the class time,” said Mark Sonstein, executive director of Purdue’s IT infrastructure.
The solution for students who are looking to get unblocked games and streaming sites is actually incredibly simple—and free. Students already know this.
You can access restricted sites simply by downloading the Hotspot Shield VPN app for free on your mobile device or laptop. Simply press “connect” from within the app and Hotspot Shield temporarily switches out your device’s IP address to make it appear as if you’re located elsewhere. This bypasses any restrictions.
Students have been doing this for years, although not all VPN products on the market will work. At the end of the day, if a student wants to pay attention in class they will—but if they don’t, there’s little a college can do to stop them. Ultimately, it’s up to the students to motivate themselves in class and to take their studies seriously.
VPNs do not only provide students with unrestricted access to the internet, they also secure their devices against hackers and keep their sensitive information private and anonymous while connected to university WiFi. This is especially important in a world where our online privacy and security is at risk. Hotspot Shield VPN protects against harmful malware, too, and is used by 650 million people across the world—in every walk of life.
As it relates to students at Purdue, one expects many will turn to VPNs to bypass the restrictions. The onus, however, is on the students to stay connected responsibly.