Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sound Familiar?

I do understand the arguments for child safety, duty of care, and such, but when schools/teachers are having success with an innovative program, and the child safety issues are covered as much as possible, then why continue with the ban and block culture?

I am pleased to say that in NSW schools, projects are considered on their merits, and are unblocked,trialled and monitored. This is a good start. Conditions apply, but those conditions are usually insignificant when compared with the alternative...the loss of the project completely.

How does your school deal with the issue of blocking harmful sites?

Here is a take on the situation from Dangerously Irrelevant.
Dangerously Irrelevant: Principal blogging not allowed

This tale’s been told before. Technology coordinators who are more concerned with disabling than enabling. Technology personnel that we would hope would be progressive, forward thinkers regarding digital technologies but instead are regressive gatekeepers. Teachers and administrators that try to move into the 21st century but run into the brick wall of supervisors or support personnel. Superintendents that allow such situations to occur rather than insisting that their district figure out how to make it work (like other districts have). Educators that fail to understand that the world around them has changed and that their relevance to that world is diminishing daily.


Rachel Boyd said...

I am glad you've brought this issue up, I have been hearing lots about the US perspective (most web2 sites being blocked) and hadn't heard much of a "down under" perspective.

In New Zealand, things vary quite a bit depending on the ways schools approach their internet use or networks etc. Some schools have very little or no blocking while some have a slightly harder line (which is often still not like in the US). Our school has recently been put on a network and I have noticed You Tube is blocked, but I am still able to access all of my other favourite sites. If sites I like do get blocked I will definetly be seeing our network administrator and arguing their merits!

Great to see NSW schools taking a sensible approach. BTW love the cartoon... must get on that site soon and see what I can come up with!

Cheers, Rachel

Mark said...

Hi Rachel.

The issue of blocking the web is not a simple one. We are fortunate in NSW in that the people who do the blocking are a team of educators rather than technicians. This is a good thing.

Issues still arise though. A recent example is The people and relationships section of was recently blocked. As a k-6 teacher I can understand why. It contains lots of stuff we don't want the children trawling through. However blocking at a statewide level has stopped the use of this resource by yr 11-12 students studying personal development and health.

No one filter will suit all ages, groups, and schools. What is appropriate in one context is not appropriate in another. As I said earlier, we are very lucky to have a team of educators in the filtering section. Trying to explain educational contexts to technicians is a lot harder.

There are good arguments for filtering to occur on a classroom/school level, rather than a statewide level, but this would require more resourcing than the current situation. The best we have come up with is a situation where it is filtered at state level, and if a teacher can present a sound case for unblocking to the team, then a site can be unblocked at the school level. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

Regarding Toondoo...its a great site. Under my current filtering regime my students can view cartoons, but cannot login to create them. School or class based filtering would allow a teacher to open a site for a period of time, then block it again after the lesson is done.