Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Difficulties and Roadblocks Already?

So I got to school today and was utterly excited about what we learned yesterday. My pricipal was asking what we had done so I went to show her the blog I started developing. I was completely surprised to find out that our computer techs had seen fit to block http://www.blogger.com/www.blogger.com and Blogmeister. How am I supposed to create and maintain a blog for my staff if they can't even access it at school? Now we talked to the division techs and I hope that they have cleared it up. Unfortunatly they believe that it is better to block anything with even the slightest chance at problems rather than to let us teach students how to use the internet appropriately.

It doesn't help that they took out the section of the blocking pages that allowed us to respond to the administrator (about the blocked pages). Apparently some of our more expressive students were sending colorful messages when they were blocked.

3 comments:

Donna said...

wow! Gary - even classblogmeister is blocked!!! Let me know if you don't get it unblocked. It is the absolute safest blogging around. You can even make it totally private so no one except you and your students can see it.

I am surprised that it is blocked because there is no specific policy yet in place.

Keep me posted.

Great blog by the way. I like the way that give step-by-step instructions on how you did things.

...and the addition of images.

James said...

I know that the blocking software can be a hindrance, but at the same time we have to realize why it is there. We, as teachers in the school, are responsible for the safety of our students - including in cyberspace – while in our care. In our everyday lives we live with restrictions put there for our safety. Would any of us be safe if there was no speed limit or if young children were allowed to drive? It's our responsibility, not the techs, to teach the students how to use the Internet responsibly. . Until all students are taught safe behaviour and are responsible with it there will be many limitations. Even then there will still be restrictions in order to avoid the dangers on the Internet and to protect the integrity of our network(s).

Alec Couros said...

James, your argument breaks down very quickly. First, you say that "we as teachers in the school are responsible for the safety of our students". I agree. But what you are actually placing this responsibility with the filtering software, not the teachers.

Equating the speed limit to filtering in schools is absurd. Yes, they are both regulations, but there are very different consequences if these limits are disobeyed. If speeding, stop signs, and other limits did not exist, there would almost certainly be more traffic fatalities and injuries. Regina Public, for instance, does not have any filtering in schools. We have not yet had a fatality in our schools due to the lack of Internet filtering software.

Then you say "until students are responsible with it there will be many limitations." How can students be taught to be responsible in your pseudo-realistic world? You are actually taking all responsibility away from them and taking away an ideal learning opportunity. Pornography, inappropriate content, and other dangers exist in the "real world", and can be accessed in most cases as soon as students go home to their wide-open Internet connections. If they do not learn self-regulation in school, do you really think that the majority of children will learn it at home?

We must rethink this issue. Filters are a huge hindrance to learning in our schools. We need to educate our teachers, students and communities about this issue and put the responsibilities for regulation back to the individual.