Tech coordinator pushback

I believe pretty strongly that we should be removing restrictions on students’ access to the Internet in school as they get older. They’re going to live in an unfiltered world. I think they deserve the opportunity to learn how to navigate that complex information space under some adult guidance before we turn them loose after graduation. They don’t learn how to do that if we don’t give them access.

I had some pushback on that idea yesterday during a phone conversation with a school technology coordinator in another state. He basically said that he wasn’t buying my information libertarianism because most employers do some kind of content filtering for their adult employees. He was comfortable with his district’s current options for teachers to quickly request that particular web sites be unblocked.

What do you think? Do you agree with my stance that schools should be opening up the Internet to kids as they reach the upper grades? Or do you concur with the technology coordinator that schools don’t need to provide any more of an unfiltered environment than employers do?

38 Responses to “Tech coordinator pushback”

  1. Wouldn’t it be something if the only places that students would be using the Internet were at school and, later in life, at work? If that were the case, filtering in school would make sense.

    But that ain’t reality.

    Our students are engaging in risky Internet behaviors NOW, outside of school on the many internet-connected computers beyond our four walls. How will they learn to be safe? I wonder if these same coordinators were in charge of shop classes if they’d remove all the dangerous equipment and just TELL the kids how they should safely use shop tools, on their own time of course.

    It reminds me of an old post I wrote called “What We Won’t Do” – http://globalvirtual.blogspot.com/2007/12/what-we-wont-do.html

  2. I’m a Tech Director with an office located in the library of my High School. Everyday I see kids on web sites that I know are blocked by our content filter. They all know the work arounds for our system and essentially have MORE access to the web than our teachers do! This is my problem with content filtering at this level. If the kids can get to these sites anyways, why filter anything but what we are required to by law? The principal and I have had discussions about removing the filtering and placing the onus of responsibility where it belongs, on the students.

  3. This would be reasonable if we expected employers to provide guidance the way that we expect schools to. But we assume that schools ought to give some kind of moral or practical guidance in dealing with the realities of the world, and you can’t give guidance without freedom to show what you’re guiding people to and away from.

  4. The big issue with blocking and filtering is if we are in compliance with federal filtering regulations. Other than that, and a few other things, we should have the network open. The computer is a teaching/learning tool, I don’t see many people censoring sections of the encyclopedia.
    In school, as at home, Internet use needs to be monitored. I like to use the playground analogy. When we have young kids, we tend to watch them very closely, and tend to be at their side when at parks and playgrounds. In time, we can observe them play with others and we monitor them. After awhile, we let them ride their bikes to the park with friends, with restrictions and after several more years they are on their own.
    This is how we need to monitor Internet use. Elementary schools need to watch the students, but use digital citizenship lessons in web searches, teach digital literacy and things like that.
    I get many teachers asking me to block sites that their kids get onto in their classroom..I tend to think of this as a classroom supervision issue. Tell the kid to get off the site or computer. How is that different than the student reading a book unrelated to class in your class?

  5. I consider myself extremely technology apt as far as college students (and tech consultant interns) go and a huge part of my interest in computers was piqued during middle school through the “original” social networks: AOL Instant Messenger, Geocities web pages, and subsequently MySpace and Facebook. Sure it looks like we’re fooling around with nonsense on those pages that are supposed to be blocked but we might just be discovering the newest Web 2.0 tool or doing independent research that’s much more important to us (for all of the junk on YouTube there ARE very informative videos!).

    I agree its more of a supervision and motivation issue. As far as classroom use is concerned – 3 of my 4 professors this semester have banned laptops in their classes. In the one class that hasn’t I admittedly sit in the back and work on other things on my computer but I still am able to chime in with relevant “Googled” information when the professor doesn’t have an answer. I also have one of the highest grades in the class. I’ve found this is very common in our business school: Those kids doing programming and following the stock market in class are often the ones who are still making the highest grades. For the record, in the classes that I can’t use my computer, we can still access the internet on our PDAs.

  6. I recently had a similar conversation with my district’s technology administrators. Their biggest concern was students not being on task because they’re on a gaming or social networking website. As a classroom teacher, my response was that this reflects a problem with classroom management and or lesson plan effectiveness. In short, if a teacher is using the Internet solely as a reference tool the students are likely to wander off task. If the teacher designs an engaging lesson plan using the Internet then students are less likely to wander off task.

    A second thought that I have about this conversation is rooted in my desire to help my students cross the digital divide. I teach in a poor, rural school district in which less than 50% of students have Internet access at home (2007 district survey of students and parents). For most of my students the only place that they can reliably access the Internet is at school. If we continue to block students from the Internet (at this point anything with a .blogspot address is blocked) we are putting them behind their peers on the other side of the digital divide.

  7. Block nothing at all.

    Then send a list of sites visited home to parents at the end of each month.

  8. Interesting timing on this posts. I was in a meeting with regional technology directors recently and what is written above was pretty much what the discussion centered on.

    The stance taken by some technology directors (not all) was that if something goes wrong, the law states that responsibility goes back to them. For that reason, they are suspect to teacher overrides and opening sites. Semi-understandable.

    Education, however, should not be reactive. We need to train our teachers in proper classroom management when it comes to technology. Teachers must be mobile and guide students while on the web. My key word is professionalism. Teachers should be able to be trusted with filter overrides for short term uses. Resources with potentially great value should be considered by a district’s technology and/or administrative team so that many opinions can be taken into consideration.

  9. I’ll have to agree with, basically, all of the comments here. My situation is a little different. Here in Florida, our district is on the FIRN network, meaning the state provides our bandwidth. Not only is there a filter on the district level, but there is an additional filter on the STATE level. We cannot get to many blogging sites, we cannot use Google images…we can’t even get to the new Life Archive at Google. There are SO many great teaching resources blocked in this state that it is ridiculous. The students, of course, have no problems getting around the filters in place using proxy sites, but as teachers, are we ethically bound to not use these proxy sites even if we are accessing educational materials? As the tech specialist for the school, I have been tempted many times to show teachers how to bypass the filter, but have not…

  10. block websites, ban books, censor films…all the same

    One problem I have come to understand is that most filtering is not done to protect the students anyway, it is to insure that teachers and schools are not held liable for things kids do online. Mostly this is done out of fear. We often block things we don’t fully understand. Social networking sites are a prime example.

  11. While some “big brother” companies do a lot of blocking many don’t do much at all. They doo keep an eye out for inappropriate browsing but generally get concerned only when it involves illegal activity or non-work related activity that goes to the sort of lengths that it gets in the way of productivity. I think that many companies would prefer it if good Internet behavior was learned in schools rather than having to be enforced though filters and other technology in industry.

    And let us not forget that schools are not there just to teach kids how to behave at work. We’re supposed to be training them for their whole life. That includes making good judgements on their computers at home too.

  12. Crazy – I just blogged about this around 5 hours ago…http://tinyurl.com/5gsxk2. This is largely our fault – we were way too far behind the curve (and our kids). Not that we could possibly have anticipated specifically all that was out there, but in hindsight, any idiot should have been able to see that we were entering a virtual frontier of unknown and vast proportions. We did nothing – we watched our kids start running amok in it and all we could do in response was put up walls.

    I’m not sure throwing all the doors wide open again is responsible either. Baby steps…
    Now that I am more aware of the possibilities the internet offers, and how I might use them (for good not for evil), I can’t teach my students quickly enough. Now I feel better about sending those students “out there” without security blocks – I think they are kids and will still get a charge out of some of the freak shows on YouTube when they think I am not looking, but I also know they will look at YouTube differently – as one of the many creative tools at their disposal.

    We can’t send our kids out into this virtual world with no skills to navigate it, or knowledge of how to use it for their own gain. As my dad was fond of saying (about raising kids), “We need to give them just enough rope to hang themselves with”.

  13. My first involvement with this topic was in 1995 with our district administration and school board. At that time, we (technology department and district administration) decided to moderately filter K-8 but not actively filter grades 9-12. We felt that part of our responsibility was to teach high school students how to use the Internet, which was pretty new at the time, safely and effectively.

    Well, we were vetoed by the School Board and we ended up filtering all grade levels.

    So, 13 years later, we are still having the debate. We know the feds have minimum levels of mandated filtering as a part of CIPA, which I am generally OK with at this time.

    I am changing my view on many sites that have traditionally been blocked, specifically any and all social networking sites. For example, we recently opened up Ning because we wanted to use it with teacher professional development.

    I think we have to find the balance in the situation and make sure we are doing what is right for the children of today. I know it would be professional suicide for me to go in front of the board and support opening up MySpace, regardless of the reason.

    I also think I can make a compelling case for the need to help students understand and effectively use the “real” Internet. We are attempting to address this issue by changing our Internet Safety curriculum to a Digital Citizenship curriculum.

    So, I think the discussion is important and we need to continue to disrupt the status quo if we are going to move forward. Having someone “push back” means that you have effectively disrupted the situation!

  14. I am the technology director at a private, all girls school grades 6-12. We have never employed internet filters at our school and, despite occasional calls for us to change this policy, I don’t think we ever will. Our reasoning is as follows:

    – students are awash in this internet “ocean” and we believe it is best to teach them how to swim that to build a fence around the sea

    – even with filters, students will encounter inappropriate content, and we believe it is best in our case to teach them how to deal with it and move on

    – filters are part and parcel of a content arms race in which both sides are constantly trying to outwit one another. Why buy into that?

    Finally, let me say that the responsibility for this lies with all of us as educators, and it is unfair that so many schools put this issue entirely on their technology departments. Acceptable policies, internet filtering, student on- or of-task behavior when using computers are issues that belong to the community of educators within the school. Some of my posts on my blog deal with this. taffee.edublogs.org

  15. So, where does learning social responsibility lie?

    Is it up to our educators – to whom we release our children to for 40 or so hours a week – to not only educate but to protect our children???…

    Our children – in some states – can’t be caught with an aspirin in their possession without a suspension… yet these same children are allowed to have an abortion without so much as a note from the teacher or school nurse…

    The internet is FULL of life’s vices, traps, entitlements, information and riches – are we to presume that they know what is best for them given that a growing majority (nearly 30%) have no problem cheating on a test yet do not see anything wrong with it???…

    We as adults – particularly as their parents – are failing our children BIG time… We allow them to make decisions that set precedence’s for their habits and way of life way before they have any clue of the consequences of their actions – then we stand back and wonder what has happened to the ethics of our future…

    Rudeness, immorality, sexual pervasiveness all exist – in the very cartoons we are allowing our children to watch without as much as a curiosity by most parents… on a machine that pretty much babysits them while we adults are ‘busy’ on trying to make their life better… Yet the opportunity to do so is right under our noses…

    Turn off the TV,
    turn off the computer,
    turn off the MP3 players,
    turn off the phone,
    turn off the video game players like X-box, Wii etc…

    Spend some time together with a board game…
    Spend some time together camping…
    Spend some time together walking…
    Spend some time doing SOMETHING…
    Don’t force a conversation – let it happen naturally and you will be surprised at what develops…

    You will see the maturity your child has – balanced and probably quit off-kilter with the innocence and inexperience they have as well…

    When you spend enough time with your own children you don’t see an adolescent in revolt or hiding in a cave or as someone you hardly know – you see someone who is part of your future, who is open to your guidance when you show you care, who will need to be put in their place every now and then but will still respect you in the morning…

    Opening the internet up to drift wherever they wish to go is akin to giving them the keys to a virtual car… it must be done so AFTER the child has shown a sense of responsibility, accountability, teaching and much fear on the part of the parents – not by those that many parents take for granted to educate and protect our children…

    The crashes, injuries and deaths that can occur in a virtual car with an open internet is mostly mental and spiritual – and unlike the physical body, once the mental and spiritual realms of our children have been injured, we don’t see the affects of such liberties until much later in their lives…

  16. The illusion of control…

    The only way to ensure anything is to teach kids (and adults) about responsible digital citizenship- what’s appropriate for work/school, what’s appropriate in social arenas, etc. Blocking them from everything or anything accomplishes nothing.

    I’ve done several in-services and presentations about this very issue for schools, communities, churches, and businesses… and it never ceases to amaze me how much bad information is out there. A little education goes a long way.

  17. I believe that board games are ruining our youth. Countless hours spent playing Monopoly, Risk, and Life are promoting senseless greed and contributing to an already prominent problem of gluttony evidenced by the growing childhood obesity rate. And games like Candyland only exacerbate the problem by promoting unhealthy diets. Don’t get me started on Clue. That game alone has probably incited a rash of violent youth behavior.

    These kids today and their camping trips are also problematic. Who knows what they do when away from the home with friends in places hidden from protective gaze of mom and dad. They could be getting into so much mischief while on those trips. Who knows what people they might meet in the woods. There are strangers there who have bad intentions. Do I need to remind you of what happened to Little Red Riding Hood?

    Time spent together walking nowdays can be problematic too. There is so much our kids can get into out there in the real world. We have to protect them from things they might see: Car Accidents, road kill, domestic disputes, and campaign signs to name a few. If only there were a way to filter the real world then we would not have to feel so worried taking our children outside to go for a walk.

    Spend some time doing SOMETHING: like blogging, playing serious games, contributing to Wikipedia, networking with people who share your hobbies and interests, or participate in democracy at change.gov.

  18. With this particular generation, they are very comfortable with technology to the point they are able to overcome any filters offered them. Creating filters only offers dillusional protection for the ones who want to block various websites but these websites are just begging to be found.

  19. The number of comments is indicative that this remains a hot-button item. Yet, I suspect you are simply preaching to the choir here. IT directors by nature resist opening up the internet so that they are not held responsible for actions that occur online. Blockage is their safest course. And many non-IT people who cry out for blockages in the name of “safety” rarely read blogs themselves nor are aware of both sides of the issue.

  20. I am the technology coordinator from a small district in North Central Iowa. The technology coordinators in this area are fortunate to have monthly meetings hosted by the AEA. This is a topic that has been discussed as an agenda item and in round table on many occasions.

    I have come to the conclusion that there are four schools of thought on this topic.

    1. Big Brother
    2. Management and or micromanagement
    3. Laissez Fair
    4. Instruction

    Big brother methodology says that you have to watch over the students and make sure that there is reporting on their usage and random checks to see what the kids are doing. I personally feel that this method is to time consuming and truly a waste of resources. I personally have better things to do with my time than to scan the logs and look for violations of the Acceptable Use Policy.

    Management or Micromanagement is a fine line to tow. Management says that a filter is more a productivity tool than it is a policing tool. By filtering out things like You Tube and or games, you free up both bandwidth and time for students and staff alike to better use the internet for more scholastic reasons. Micromanage is when this goes too far and you have 27 subgroups all with different rights to the Internet. Plus you get all the usage reports and “control” the Internet.

    Laissez Fair is the hands off approach. What ever will be will be. This could include the filter or maybe not. It is a bit like giving a kid a book without teaching them to read. If they are interested enough, they will figure it out on their own.

    Then there is the Instructional model. It teaches students what the internet is, how to discern whether a site is fact or opinion. It shows them how to research, how to use this tool. It is in my opinion the best method for our schools. But with this method comes responsibility. Teachers must be willing to allow students to use (and I do mean USE) the internet. Give them access to everything they may need and more, but monitor them in the classroom setting. It also means we need to change our views on what teaching is. If the world goes to a one to one setting, we need to adjust our methods to this new educational paradigm. Not the other way around.

    If we are to prepare free thinking, self reliant individuals, there has to be some modicum of trust that they will take what we teach them and actually use those tools to better themselves. It is highly unlikely that any person has ever desired to attain nothing more than adequacy. We may get there, but it is not our goal.

    That is just my 2 cents.

  21. Perhaps if students were not filtered and were trusted to do what is right and manage their time, there would be no need for filters later in the business world.

  22. I am very impressed with the dialogue concerning this topic…

    It seems that there are still more non-believers out that than there are believers in technology when it comes to social networking. Maybe some school officials are scared of the term “social?”

    I am so surprised at the amount of fear out “there.” Why are some leaders so afraid of losing their “perceived” control? Are they really in control? And if so, what exactly are they controlling?

    Especially in the time of a very much struggling economy, why is it so hard to see that the only solution is to educate and not oppress; Innovate, not lock down. Feed the hungry with food that will drive our communities, not make us obese…

  23. I firmly believe that school districts should retain control of web access for the students. As a tax payer and a parent, I have no interest in students looking at web sites that are not for their educational benefit. I still have parental controls on my teenager’s sites and will until they graduate from high school. I expect the schools to do the same. It is up to me to decide when I am ready for my children to fully exposed to the crud that is out there.

  24. I’ve been working in a 1-1 computing environment with middle school students since 2003, and my views on this topic have evolved a bit. Five years ago, I would have filter every distraction. Today, I know better. My role as a middle school tech coordinator in a 1-1 is to give students the skills/strategies they need to be independent users of technology, ideally by the time they hit 9th grade. We do that with minimal filtering, a fair level of observation, and a lot of discussion around appropriate use, healthy technology habits, and safe computing practices. Some of this is done in a “tech class” setting, but much is done in the context of health/wellness and advisory periods. As the school’s tech lead, I can speak from personal experience with explanations of whys and hows, but I think it carries more weight coming from classroom teachers/advisors – “real people” with non-geek influences.

    Today we filter the stuff that’s going to take down our network (P2P stuff) as necessary to maintain network reliability and the hardcore stuff that most adults avoid. When something inappropriate comes up, you’d be surprised how many kids will tell me! They know they aren’t “busted” for misuse; instead, they’re curious why it popped up and want to know how to avoid it in the future. Exactly the behavior I want to encourage from middle school kids :-)

  25. Good post… even better responses. In am honestly impressed (though not surprised, given the likely audience) with the openness of the responses.

    Our district purchased a typical filter system. However, to my knowledge, we have no policy. We have no philosophy guiding our decisions.

    However, I can say that for some odd reason we got lucky on this -in a very economically strapped slice of the country with parental oversight- by having techs (not technology coordinators like most of you) who are largely open to the social web.

    Case in point: I make a quick phone call to our network admin. last Spring to inquire about a specific Ning site that I had just set up for professional development in our school: http://virtualsouthside.ning.com and the entirely of Ning was unblocked. That was interesting.

    Long story short: we now have a couple dozen productive learning networks on the Ning platform in our school. Good stuff.

    Sean

  26. In the scheme of challenges facing our schools, students, and communities, completely removing content filters from public schools is a battle that I don’t believe is worth fighting.

    I’ve found that there are so many web tools available out there, that it’s relatively easy to find one that isn’t blocked and does a comparable job to the one I might have wanted to use but was blocked. Or, just develop a good relationship with the tech director where I listen (as well as tell) and odds are they’ll remove the block on the site I want to use.

    Let’s put our energy into fights that I don’t believe have such ready alternatives available — like schools connecting with families to respond to problems that might really close the “achievement gap” like getting affordable housing built, safer neighborhoods, and accessible health care.

    Larry

  27. I’m sorry. Filtering is crazy. I personally have witnessed Home Ec. classes where you can’t get recipes because the site is blocked (the recipe calls for four chicken breasts, or thighs); classes where you can’t talk about charities because they address particular types of cancers; history sites which mention the KKK; and so on. Better to use the opportunities to teach them young to avoid the pitfalls of society and the mistakes that others make. If that means having an uncomfortable discussion with children, it’s way better than the one you’ll have when they’re sucked into that particular thing you were too uncomfortable to mention.

  28. Coming from a corporate background into an education support field (I teach teachers how to use tech), I have to admit there is some validity to this line of thinking. I worked for two Fortune 500 companies that were incredibly restrictive. Content filtering is alive and well at the corporate world, with everyone from mortgage companies to government offices blocking everything from Hotmail to Sports Illustrated.
    Countrywide Home Loans, one of the largest Mortgage companies around, is so restrictive on their network use policies that new employees pretty much have to ask permission to check THEIR OWN COMPANY EMAIL the first few times they use it and are gradually given more privileges as they get training and show that they are good net citizens, etc.
    Our students, both high school and college, are NOT going, in most cases, into a wide open world wide web. They all need to learn the rules and show that they can follow them. THAT is a best practice that will help them in the work world.
    Instead of fighting a restrictive system and complaining about it, perhaps a better use of our time would be adapting teaching methods to show students how to work positively within the environment they are given?
    There needs to be a balance. YES. Absolutely we should be releasing the chokehold we have on the internet. NO. We can’t release it all the way. That’s just not how it works in the corporate world.
    Just my $.02. Feel free to bash away… ;)

  29. I am the director of technology for a district in South Carolina. I lean more toward the more open philosophy within certain boundaries. We are required by law to provide a certain level of content filtering in order to receive federal funds for Internet connections. Do students find a way around these? Yes, but we prevent much more illicit viewing than would be possible without the filters in place. Are sites sometimes blocked that should be open? Yes, but we have a mechanism in place to open access to those sites.

    Issues of liability and appropriateness of content aside, I have not seen any discussion about conserving limited resources. We have a very limited amount of bandwidth available for Internet access. When I have opened YouTube for general access, I’ve seen our bandwidth choked down so that the Internet crawls. Therefore we restrict high-bandwidth sites such as YouTube, but provide access to video on demand clips within the district in such a way that it doesn’t affect our bandwidth. If a teacher has a YouTube video he/she would like to use, we will gladly open access to that video.

  30. If filters worked it would be one thing. But as others have pointed out they don’t.

    Also what does it matter what corporate America does or does not allow at work. I’m not worried about my students accessing inappropriate things 10 or more years from now at work, I’m worried about them getting in trouble now at home or the public library. I am working to make them good citizens on and off line. My parents are scared of technology because they don’t have the skills.

    Part of my problem is who decides what gets filtered. The librarians in my district have successfully lobbied to get wikapedia blocked. It isn’t written by “experts”, anyone could upload anything. Someone might put porn on it, it isn’t safe

    It doesn’t matter how many studies we show them showing Wikapedia is as accurate as other “professional” sources. They still object.

  31. I think the big idea is teaching students how to “weed through” the nonsense. It doesn’t matter if that’s porn or just an unreliable site. Most of the bloggers out there (over the age of 30, at least) did not have the benefit of netiquette/digital citizenship lessons in school because there WAS no Internet when we were in school! Most of us figured it out how to navigate and use the Internet in respectful and appropriate ways. I believe with the lessons we ARE (or should be) teaching students today, they’ll be fine when faced with the unfiltered world. Hopefully, these 21st century students will grow into adults who don’t need filters at work because the majority of them will want to use these tools in appropriate ways. But maybe I’m a dreamer. :-)

  32. My thinking is that as teachers we must expose our students to all the possibilities. Filters only block certain content at school but they still exist. It’s a matter of teaching digital citizenship. This involves making mistakes along the way. As an elementary school teacher I see several students experimenting with sites like myspace and online gaming sites. I would rather that MY students learn about the use of these tools in an educational setting. It takes time and patience but the payoffs are long term.

  33. You are spot on with this blog post. It is time State Departments of Education take this issue on in an open discussion with stakeholders. Legislation in Colorado (and perhaps Ohio) call for school Innovation districts which would lift all restrictions such as those you discuss here so that Good teachers will have the freedom to explore integration of useful technology into learning, figure out how to assess it and bring it to scale. I discuss this and related issues in my own blog at http://www.thecivicfabric.org. There I talk about the role philanthropic institutions can play in pushing this important topic with state leaders.

  34. Opening the access to students is way beyond due. However, I do believe that points raised by Mrs. Potts and Bob Martin – parental rights/responsibilities and actual corporate status. Parents need to have a say in this, whether in support or opposition, and like many things, we assume we know what they want as well so no need to consult them…wrong. We also tend to believe that we know what happens to our students after graduation, so we know how to prepare them…wrong. Think of the issue of child predators – hope we teach them well before they get the opportunity to experiment. How about in the world of termination for doing your on-line banking and shopping while working. Don’t think big brother isn’t watching there too. Our efforts in schools are miniature trial and error of life, but trials are held under somewhat controlled circumstances so as to minimize the consequences. I like the open net option, but I think with consultation. We use a Highway Patrol approach. You can drive as fast as your car allows, but there are laws for your safety and others…get caught, pay the price-including losing your license. Same for Internet – pretty open access allows for experimentation and limits areas that prevent teachers from teaching (Home Ec. recipes are important) but if they are violated – there goes the “license” or the password.

  35. We teach our children and our students how to drive a car on public roads – a place where they could really die or be seriously injured. But we choose to do this because driving is an essential part of being an American.

    Actually, learning to drive starts in the toddler years with trikes and bikes, motorized toy cars, bumper cars, etc… driving is a rite of passage.

    Like driving, using the internet is becoming an essential part of not only being an American but a world citizen. So it seems prudent to me to slowly but surly remove the restrictions from our children and students until they are afforded the right to go full bore in an unrestricted world.

    We are misguided if we think we can protect our children from all harm – we cannot. The best we can do is offer education, advice, and good decision making skills so they are positioned to avoid harm or at least minimize potential harm from using the internet.

    But really, raise your hand if you always, and I mean always stay under the speed limit when you drive your car. We expect kids will make mistakes – hopefully we can be nearby when they do and we can set them on the correct path.

    Let’s err on opening the internet access, not narrowing it.

  36. I like to think the role of education is to prepare a child to function in a world that actually exists. This means removing the filters. Perhaps a student makes a mistake, but better they learn the lesson at a younger age when they are surrounded by adults who have their best interest at heart.

    Students need to make mistakes to learn from then.

    Remove the filter.

    Jeremy
    http://whyedify.blogspot.com/

  37. Queen Cleopatra had her library at Alexandria. We have the Internet and Google makes the information quickly available. This invaluable tool was just starting to be used during the last years I taught. I let my students (5th and 6th grades) use the Internet. In fact, I had to beg the technology director to let me have access in my classroom.

    I talked to the students about “inappropriate” sites. I told them that if they accidently got onto a site that made them feel “uncomfortable” they should leave it and go to another. I also tried to teach them about verification and how to discern whether or not the information was in fact factual.

    I was fortunate in that my administration was supportive and allowed me to use this invaluable resource. We had computer labs where we could take the whole class and also a traveling set of laptops we could bring to the classroom I had a computer at my desk and others in the classroom for sharing.

    I used to teach a unit where the students had to plan a trip to Europe (the book was boring) and travel to three or more countries. When I started doing this unit the kids had to visit travel agencies to get their information – It was a good unit but it was much easier for them and for me to use the Internet. The Internet has changed dramatically the way we live and deal with the world. I have a blog that has been read all over the world. I have communicated regularly with some of my blogfriends and even some of my former students have “found” me on the Internet and made contact with me.

    I spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer. If I want to know something, I google it. Sometimes I find things which are inappropriate (even for a 67 year old former teacher) I know what to do and how to leave the site. I taught my students how to do that. They didn’t need any other filter than their good judgment. There were a few who tried to go to inappropriate sites but I identified those students and watched them more closely. It just depends on the quality of the teacher in the classroom

    It was interesting, one time when a student researching Spartacus found an adult bookstore names Spartacus. We talked about it and it was fine.

    Oh yes, the students had to keep a record of the URL’s they used for their research and for some of their projects I gave them a list of approved URL’s which I wanted them to use. It is just a matter of learning to use this tool. (sorry for the long post)

  38. The Tech Co-Ordinator is ignoring the fact that the work place and the school do both filter, but have slightly different motivations.

    In the work place they are keen to keep their employees on task. They don’t want them surfing around the web trying to find out new stuff about subjects that interest them.

    In schools, don’t we want our pupils to do this: learn new things.

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