Saturday, February 16, 2008

Blocking, Filtering, Refusing To Download - Oh My!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well. A few of you are enjoying the mid-February Break and I hope the rest of you have not been faced with the flu that seems to be visiting many school districts.

Very often in conversations with participants, the question of filtering and the issues of not being allowed to download and similar filtering issues are of big concern. It is very frustrating for someone to see how wonderful Google Earth is and then to find out that they are not permitted to download it on to their school computers or network. I listen, empathize, but rarely have an answer to this problem.

I decided to write to Doug Johmston, whose blog Blue Skunk, I have been reading for awhile. I get so much from his writings and really like his humor, but more than that, his wise advice and insights. I decided to email Doug and ask him how his school addresses filtering issues and how he sees the problem. I think his answers to me might help some of you, so I will post what he had to say almost verbatim:

Like you, I encounter the over-blocking problem throughout the country. When asked about how to counter this, I usually suggest some of these things:
All tech policies need to be made by an advisory committee that includes educators, students and techs – each giving voice and perspective.
Techs need to be relieved of complete responsibility for insuring student safety via blocking.

If there is a request for blocking a website or resource needs to be given the same due process as removing a book from the library or classroom. My own district's approach to filtering can be found in: Like I’ve said before, I feel like a lone voice crying for a more sensible filtering policy in schools. Glad to know you are talking about this too through BER!

I think relieving all of the Tech coordinators, network administrators, and people in charge of computors the responsibility for student safety makes a lot of sense. Maybe that would alleviate some of the fears that are driving them to make some of the decisions that they do.

I hope this helps and I welcome your comments.

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