Recently a colleague posted a survey to a list I’m a member of, and in essence shared that all mp3s, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and virtually all Web 2.0 tools are filtered where she works. It has added some interesting comments to the mix — geez I wish it were on a blog!
So I’m going to put it here – at least my contribution. I want to know what others think.
First I must say I am thankful for the ability to login and bypass blocked content for instructional purposes. I also feel my district listens to requests from teachers for unblocking content, even if only for a little while.
Why do we need filters?
But honestly, in my opinion unengaging classes and unstructured time at a computer is the root for the most part of students’ quest to get to blocked content, and there are hundreds of proxies that grant access, despite the best filtering software. Sometimes I think the filters are for lazy teachers who are not engaging their students or worse, causing teachers to be lazy — i.e. I don’t feel good so let’s go to the lab for “research” or “free-writing.”
I may be wrong too, but I think if the social networking sites that teens are into, like MySpace, Facebook, and more were not blocked, kids would be all about it for one week or so, and then be so over it. They clamor for it now b/c its the “forbidden fruit.”
You will always have that 10-20% who make bad judgments, and then rules are made for the 80% + who never even thought to break them. Completely blocking is not the answer either.
But the heavy handed way some districts are blocking (like NO incoming mail from gmail–what on earth is with that??)
It just seems there should be significantly more conversations and real communication b/w students, parents, teachers, taxpayers, and the gate keepers for the filter. We are all stakeholders in this. Allowing our input or voices to be heard gives us ownership for why the filter is used, and why we filter out some content.
Where do kids learn the tools now?
If we are to prepare our students for the 21st century, we have to let them use a few of the 21st century tools. Let’s not forget that a structured classroom environment is a better place to expose students to the tools, rather than in the student gathering places at schools, like courtyards, parking lots, and hallways, or away from school and supervision, like friends’ houses, where for the most part the time and location is unstructured and wide open for misinformation AND misuse.
The cellphones of today are all that is needed to post a video to YouTube. Is it any wonder we are seeing more and more educators rants plastered there? (visit this link from Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant to see six samples.)
If we must filter, then give us some flexibility with the filter.
I am not against filters. I am against the total way some districts block everything, and turn a deaf ear to teacher requests.
Thank you HCS for offering me a portal to use material that is filtered, and allowing me as an educator the ability to request material to be totally unblocked, or unblocked for a short time. It does make a difference in my happiness on the job. It makes me feel respected as a professional adult who can make judgment calls about what tools I choose to teach with.
Tell me what your district or environment does, how it makes you feel, and most important, how to help the districts that unlike mine, offer no way for educators to bring in 21st century tools for 21st century learners.
- What advice can I offer my colleague who wants their filter loosened a bit?
- Is it better to offer us a way to get by that locked portal, or continue to challenge students to find proxies?
Image: ‘Prison Planet‘