We have a web filter at school. As all filters do, it blocks content.

At the same time, we have a “technology” committee that is looking at where teaching/education is going and what skills, traits and values today’s students will need in the future. Our holy book is Thomas Friedman’s, The World is Flat. *cue the cherubs singing the Alleluia chorus*

One of the main tenets of the book is the idea that the top down management-style of working on a project is the old way of thinking. For example, A chief on high says, this is the way we are going and the rest of the tribe is expected to follow.

What Friedman says is that today, everything has to be as flattened as possible. No boss saying this is what has to be accomplished, instead, each person is expected to work in a community to accomplish the goal.

Kids today are going to be working with people from all over the globe on many different types of projects. But how can we train them for those types of things when we can demonstrate them in the classroom?

I am not saying all filters need to be removed and kids can use whatever they want to. What I am saying is how can we balance what would be a helpful tool to use, i.e. tagging, and balance it with protecting kids from the seedy, underbelly of the internet?

Tags: 2.0, education, technology, web

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Christopher I have a feeling that you may have hit on a raw nerve for 2.0 advocates. But I guess that's why you have posed the question. This is a global problem and all areas of the world appea to have their own solution the problem of blocking.
Just to let you know what happens in my Local Authority ( School District ). They have recently updated their server services!!! which I found has blocked all of my blogs pages and my podcasting site ( the only site not blocked strangely is Classblogmeister). What we have to do is e-mail one of our intranet technicians with the page block information - they then check it out to see any problems with the site - if all is ok then they allow it. I don't know as yet what happens if I disagree with their decision ( I expect if it does happen I will make a loud noise from school and make sure they hear me!!! ). I still don't know by the way whether when I return to school on Monday my sites will be unblocked - watch this space.... I suspect we will all find our own ways to overcome problems such as these.

This IS the crucial issue facing educators today, I think, which is where is the balance between keeping kids safe (and convincing administrators and parents that we are teaching our kids to be safe users of technology) and the implementation of curriculum that engages our students on different levels.

I am overseeing a large blogging project and I had to write a long letter to principals assuring them of protection of student identity, craft a letter home for parents, and discuss with my teachers how you teach middle school students how to be safe in the Internet World. (You can tell by their faces when you ask, how many have given out personal information on the Internet, how many have done so without even thinking about it. And then, my thought is, where the heck are the parents when they are doing this?)

At national meeting where I attend, and in small conversations, most teachers face these hurdles and, man, if you figure it out, please let me know how you did it. :)

Chris, you are making a good point. We need to model collaborative learning and effective connectivity to our students to have credibility in a global learning environment. There are no easy answers for any of us whether we work at management and/or classroom levels. The only approach really is to educate, converse, be sensible and share ideas.....which is why this Ning forum is another useful medium! Equal opportunity for input, equal chance to have your say, including students.
UMMMmmmm ... filtering ... must be coffee time.

www filtering is not an issue with many many students (and some savvy teachers) ... they just go to proxy sites and look at the website the school/district is trying to block .... this is part of the unoffical students toolkit in places like e.g. myspace

One week ago in Thailand (where my coffee filter and I live) the govenment blocked YouTube ... and still blocked today ... using a proxy it is possible for me to immediately get around this .... so I can view YouTube pages (unfortunately not able to actually play the videos ... but haven't tried a work-around for that yet)

The only guaranteed www control for a district or school (or country) would be to have a white list of approved sites .... and that does seem to work well with very young students .... but the internet is a big place and would be a really time consuming job maintaining the list.

So .... want to know more about proxies and filter busters and try one on your own school/district filter .... have a look at

Health Warning ... a few proxies will throw pop-up adverts at you .... but haven't heard any complaints from students yet.
Yea, I overheard a conversation in homeroom the other day. The kids can basically get around the filter already.
We implement a county wide filtering program with 12 school districts. It has been interesting and frustrating and we have learned a lot. We have learned that kids can get around any filter. We learned that local district technicians have a different perspective on filtering than teachers and at times are in deep conflict. We have learned that most of our bandwidth is used up (county wide) by games, ftp video, streaming and not United Streaming. Oh well, the major lesson we have learned is that we (regional coop of districts with killer filtering software) cannot police Internet access.

My technicians have been in computer labs during the school day with a teacher present and as the technician walked around he saw students using proxy avoidance and playing at sites that were blocked, should have been blocked, or about to be blocked. The teacher sat in the front of the room at their desk and did nothing. An isolated occurence maybe, but something bothers me here. I have heard talk among teachers that policing the internet is not their job, I don't have time to be the police, I have lots of other important curriculum things to do, that is what filters are for, and they have this sense of security that if a student clicks on a site that is inappropriate then that is the tech departments responsibility to see that it doesn't happen.

My view, it can only be controlled at the district, building, classroom, desktop level. No policy will prevent it. No filtering sofware will prevent it. It must be an embedded ethical responsibility accepted by every teacher and every administrator in those buildings. If educators abdicate that responsibility to the techies then they will lock down every computer and frankly I wouldn't blame them one bit.
precisely. on another note, curricula should be modeled by making this "openness" as its foundation, not as an afterthought. how exactly that could be done is another topic.



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