Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I have been following P. Fjeldstrom and Luseland School's work at developing a student internet use policy. Let me quote section 5 of their second draft.

5. Any websites containing the following information listed below is forbidden. Any students caught on websites containing any of this information without direct teacher supervision will be have their computer privileges removed. Items used in research for information in reports, essays, etc. are only acceptable if being viewed under direct teacher supervision.

i. Violence (guns, killing, injuring, punching, kicking, etc.)

ii. Alcohol abuse

iii. Sexual content

iv. Drug abuse

v. Manipulation

vi. Profanity (swearing)

vii. Harming of others/themselves

First let me point out that this part is complete enough to be the core of an acceptable use policy. Add some consequences and then you are good to go. Good work Luseland.

Now wait a minute. How many books in our libraries would pass these restrictions? (This comes from a conversation I had with my Principal). The great bard himself (Shakespeare) includes lots of i) murder and war, ii)public drunkeness, iii) incest and lewdness, iv) reference to drug use, v) tons of manipulation (the three witches in Macbeth), vi) swearing (ok maybe today this one is a stretch), and vii)suicide (harming yourself). Heaven forbid that one of our students should actually try and check one of his books out of the library! The moral implications are endless!

Really. When is the last time you read a book that did not break any of these restrictions?

I have said it before and I will say it again, I wonder if they had any of these problems when the ballpoint pen was first introduced?


pcone said...

Under this policy, students researching alcohol abuse etc. wouldn't be able to research. (I remember when Jim Shevchuk used to teach the dangers of drug abuse by having grade 7 and 8 students research "celebrity deaths". Elvis still hasn't left the building!")

Gary Ball said...

No I think that you missed one little part. In the middle there it says that the sites are only acceptable under direct teacher supervision while doing research. But what if the student takes some inititive and wants to do some independant learning?

P. Fjeldstrom said...

are you making a jab at my policy? haha! :-) Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I really do agree with you on your truth that our policy is restrictive and that #5 is likely to be enough...but that our school has had some issues for some time now, and a lot of these issues were caused by students abuse of internet websites. Now we have not blocked them, we are just keeping better monitoring of them - using them under direct supervision, because we have found that in OUR school (may be different in other schools), that they need to really be taught about internet responsibility and what it means to be a digital citizen in respect to safety, responsibility and awareness. I am assuming that this policy as it stands today will be ammended in the new year and will be made less restrictive and hopefully by then, we will have started to set students on the 'safe and responsible' path....we'll see....it's just a start.....

Gary Ball said...

No I am not making fun of your policy (but I think you know that). I actually really like section 5. I showed it to my principal and we will probably base our policy on that section.

And no your students are not unique in that they need to be taught internet responsibility.

To tell the truth I was poking fun at all acceptable use policies. (Although I do recognize thier necessity.)

Allison Sherwin said...

I too will be using something similar to revamp our Internet Usage Policy.

I too am insupport of the idea of NOT BLOCKING these questionable sites (too a degree) and focus on developing digital citizens.

Nickell said...

I am glad to see that Fjelstrom is taking his school in the right direction. By simply blocking sites we are not teaching our students internet responsibilty...what happens when they decide to do research or go on the internet at home and sites are not blocked? Teaching responsibility and monitoring is the answer. Last year I had my ELA class researching "child abuse" after reading the book "A Child Called It". It was a topic they were extremely interested in and an assignment they were motivated to do. However, any site they tried to access was blocked. I came across numerous slide shows about child abuse that I wanted to share with my students, but sadly the sites were blocked at school. I emailed our division tech people but by the time they unblocked the sites, student interest had diminished significantly. Perhaps even having more control at our own school would be beneficial?