Is the technology being developed for use in our schools, currently heads above what most teachers understand and could effectively use in their classrooms? And if this is so, should it be used? And if it is to be used, how should it be used? What would be most effective for the instructor and the class?

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However we are legally responsible for these students while they are in our building under our supervision. Once that factor comes into play, the restrictions tighten for the benefit of the student.
I disagree with the savy part. Students are more capable than mosr adults at surfing and utilizing the Internet, however at our school we have tested to see how easy it is to get a password from a kid. In our school chocolate bar = password. Also, students share this information freely with one another if something on the Nex page needs updating and they don't have time. They are still children and do not understand the dangers of the real world, no matter how much TV and the Internet provides them with information. Children think they are indestructible.
Its more than just getting a school password I'm referring to when I say kids are more savvy. Most, by the time the are in middle school, know better than to give an online stranger personal information, or to meet someone they don't know. That said, its important to make the distinction between middle school/high school students and younger children. They remain vulnerable, and just don't have the sophistication needed to recognize a threat.

According to Growing Up Online, the department of justice has conducted the only study of online predators and it shows that most kids know better than to respond to unsolicited contact. "All the known cases of sexual exploitation involving social networks involve kids who were looking to meet someone. They were not deceived." Ann Collier, author of "My Space Unraveled."

The study also showed that its not strangers that kids most often have to worry about. They are far more likely to be victimized by family members or adults they know.

In our culture if there is a 1% chance that something bad could happen, we act as though it is a 100% chance. Not a great basis for creating reasoned policies.

Mandatory online filtering, CIPA, and other laws and regulations came about so that politicians could demonstrate that they "care about children." It didn't cost anything, made them feel good, and demonstrated to the public that Washington was "doing something about the problem."

The news media sensationalized the few but no less tragic cases. A frightened public fell for the political grandstanding. Now we're stuck with it.
Again regardless of the slim chance of a predator a school district is legally obligated to ensure the safety of the members of the school. And unfortunately a few bad apples will ruin the bunch.

So can a network be created that provides schools the security they need, but allow us as educators the freedom to explore social networks, blogs, etc... That is what needs to be explored, allowing students access to the digital wild wild west is asking for trouble. Students need an environment that provides them choice, but in a safe way.
I'm not advocating turning kids loose in the wild west. Simply making the point that the policy is misguided.

Don't wait for anyone to create "a network that provides schools the security they need." It may be a long time coming. You have to do it yourself or your district has to help you do it. There are password protected, limited access hosted wiki/blog services that protect kids and limit access to outsiders. Advert-free, etc.

Many have been discussed on this site. Wikispaces, Blogmeister, PBwiki, come to mind.

The "walled garden" is the safest way to begin. If you can host your own installation of Moodle, the learning management system, it offers very good security and levels of access. If you can't host, there are inexpensive sites offering Moodle. Some as low as $10/month.

My opinion is that you scaffold the experience just as you would many others as a teacher. Offer support while moving students in the direction of independence.

I'd be happy to point you toward some good resources or share the ways in which we (in my district) have manged to keep kids safe while providing access to some of the resources you mention.
We've had a lot of success using moodle. To have it installed on a server that is supported by our local BOCES (Ed Tech server) was much more than $10 a month, try 3k a year! We had it on a local server but it was too much info for it to handle when a whole class or 2 was on at once.

I also don't think we do any justice teaching our students media literacy when MOST things get blocked. We can't even search google images at our school, even though there is a safe search mode that 99.9% of the time blocks any negative images. And for that .1%, thats a learning moment as long as our students are remotely supervised.
What needs to be done to accomplish this?
For some reason cannot link to the above comment, so replying here.

More of a teacher than tech, the concept of a database of good sites that need not be blocked providing students the opportunity of freedom and exploring social networking sounds great. But what would be required to set it up. What software could be used, etc...

I realize just an idea, but some ideas to flesh it out would be great, need not expand to greatly.
Sounds interesting, new thread?
This has been a really interesting discussion and like all good, open-ended questions, I don't think there are definitive answers to any of those posed above. Yes, technology is advancing at break-neck speed and not all teachers are willing and/or able to utilize all technology tools in all their classes, all the time.
I believe the technology should be used when it can be demonstrated that it is enhancing the learning - perhaps by motivating students more, by being able to present their work in new and exciting ways or by giving them opportunites to follow their own areas of interest amongst the vast information available.
I believe the most effective forms of technology are those that appeal to the teacher and learner because of their convenience and their ability to open up new ideas and ways of doing the work.
We have a terrific technology teacher (Ann Mirtschin - a host on Classroom 2.0) who teaches in many of the primary classes, as well as secondary and electives. Often her students end up teaching me how to do things - like Kahootz (animation software), uploading videos, short-cuts and so forth. Without her and a couple of other techno-savvy teachers in the school, our progress as a staff would be much slower. I wouldn't attempt to teach science and maths and then new software on top of that - it's great to be able to give the students a choice of how they would like to research and present their work. So, I think it's important that there are people in the school who are experts in technology, who can teach the skills, with the content from other classes (English, Science etc.)
This a really great thread!

I have to say that we focus so much on the teacher, it's easy to forget that there are lots of other people on campus who can change things. We've spent 30 years begging and bribing teachers to use technology while simultaneously undermining the support and systems they need to do it effectively. Technology means trusting kids more, and needs teachers to change their pedagogy to be more open-ended, project-based. This is the opposite of what's happening, so it's no wonder that teachers resist.

But what if you teach the students directly how to use technology and let them teach teachers. I know, it sounds crazy, but it's not any less crazy than continuing to do the same things over and over again that aren't working.

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