Administrators fear what they can't control. Everyone worries about the consequences of students participating in the open internet in ways that may make them vulnerable.

This is going to be a public opinion battle that we will be in for the decade to come. Please discuss how the debate is transpiring within your school.

Tags: issues, law, legal, policy

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You are the truth speaker: "teachers will do what ever they want, and the administrators will simply ignore it till someone complains or something breaks."
Why does it have to be this way? Teachers are professionals and should adhere to the districts goals, initiatives, and policies without policing, professional character trait.

From the administrative view, it may seem that administrators ignore it until a complaint is lodged. I am pleased with my staff and their steadfastness of supervision in the lab. Perhaps my naivete is blinding me and professional adults are doing whatever they want when the boss is not looking.

I believe teachers do what it is right much more than not, and administrators that ignore issues that nee correcting, shame on them!
I think the answer is a responsible filtering system. I agree that we need some filtering in place, not just for the protection of students, but for the sanity of those trying to teach the students. This year in our school district, we unblocked a lot of what used to be filtered. Students now have access to sites like facebook and many other sites that used to be blocked. We do however still block youtube (and other video and music sites). While a lot filtering is done to keep inappropriate material out (because of potential law suits, this has to be done), but also to keep bandwidth costs from spiraling out of control. With 800-1000 computers sharing a 5-10MB internet connection (@$800.00 to $1,000.00 per month) and one youtube visit consuming as much as 1MB+ (while downloading - (while little red indicator is moving to the right)), there needs to be some kind of control.

I think another issue is that most school networks are not set up in a way that gives teachers the ability to be able to control the access that the students have. That would be the best way to solve almost all the filtering debate. Allow access to questionable sites, when the teacher sees the need for it, yet give them the complete control to block it when it is not appropriate. This would be a part of what I would consider a responsible filtering system.

I think the biggest problem threat comes from potential law suits. Anyone can file a lawsuit and it costs the schools money even if it doesn't get to court. So I think it is important that schools make a reasonable effort to keep "inappropriate" material out and not expose our children to it, while allowing access to the sites needed in order to properly educate students. It will be this effort that will be looked at in any potential lawsuit.

While many people want the internet unfiltered or opened up, very few would sign an agreement to be liable for any lawsuits or other legal situations that might arise from students using the computers, while under their supervision! It's always easier when you are not the person responsible for paying for it.

I do think that some of the tragedies that have happened with students use of the internet, may not have happened if proper use of the internet tools had been taught in school. In fact if most people were better educated in use of email, we would have a much lower computer virus problem, as well as spam issues, but that's another story *LOL*!

Most of the problems with laws and policies is that they are so vague , that with ever changing evolution of the internet, they don't apply or too many things apply. I think that it is very possible to have freedom and control, all we need is people working together to figure out how to make it all work.
I'm very interested in this issue, and have been blogging about it recently.

At my school, there's a little cabal of us who are frustrated by the fear of technology that's rampant in our little rural area; the humorous thing is that I'm the youngest, and I'm 42. One of the strongest proponents of opening things up, reinforcing 21st century skills, teaching the tools is our part-time (formerly retired from another district) librarian, who's at least mid-60s if not older. :)

We literally were shot down on having an after-school program for doing homework, etc., staffed by different teachers, because "The kids might be teh e-mail or playing games!" (The other reason was the pittance it would cost, but that's another issue.)

I love my school--I really do. I have much more freedom as a teacher than I would many places. But this fear of tech tools makes me want to scream. I have *seniors* who don't know how to send me an attachment, and don't know the difference between an URL and an e-mail address. I know more html than 99% of my students, and that's not an exaggeration.

We're sending these kids off to college and work without the ability to discern quality in sources, how to collaborate in different contexts, how to access so many excellent tools...and yes, it should be part of our jobs. We should be teaching how to navigate.

Anyway, I'll be following along here, lending support and garnering some, as many of us struggle to update our educational mindsets in our corners of the world. :)
Do a teach-in around the book "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky. That's my suggestion.

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