Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Filtration Frustration: "Block the Bad; Guard the Good"

Filtration Frustration

I worked two days of my three day weekend designing a wiki-quest for students to research election issues. I arrived at school to a new firewall filter and NONE of my wikis, blogs, lesson plans, or links work -- all blocked by the firewall, including Weekly Reader and Brain Bop! All the science teacher's daily links are blocked. What kind of filter does that, and why? Why is a filter deciding what we can use in the classroom?

I am the teacher, the curriculum designer incorporating technology into my classroom to help students meet 21st Century standards; yet I am constantly defeated by the Technology Department. I just don't understand why ITs decrease access and disregard the teachers moving into the 21st Century. Is it because we are so rural and remote that the ITs who come to our school think we are not 21st Century learners and teachers?

What do other teachers and schools do? What are we who are attempting to move forward supposed to do to convince IT Departments to include teachers in their planning?

Now tonight at home I need to print the information to show overhead, and redo lesson plans because we no longer have access to our sites.

So frustrating to have this filter on legitimate knowledge, especially with absolutely no warning. I don't believe in Pop Quizes. I provide my students with everything they need to be successful-- and then some. Shouldn't teachers be provided the same support? If we all supported each other -- collaborated -- wouldn't that help students even more?

Deep sigh.

My colleagues and I simply want to teach, and be supported in our endeavors to engage students --- who are also wondering why their access is limited at school. Responsible use only comes with the ability to make decisions about the relevance, accuracy, and appropriateness of the sites we choose.

I just had to tell a colleague who phoned to prepare for no internet use; there is no answer at this time.

There is, however, much information on the issues of student safety, censorship, and teaching and learning in the 21st Century:

PEW Internet Safety
PBS: Frontline: Kids Growing Up Online
Student Learning: Center For Applied Research in Educational Technology
Get Net Wise
First Amendment Center
First Amendment
Center for Democracy and Technology
Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition