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Hi Larry, I am glad that you are taking an interest in this discussion since Wikipedia is one of the sites I (and many others) block. In response to your questions: 1. As to concern over “lax” filters: a. I am not concerned about being fired or blamed. That is not the issue. The issue is the welfare of my students. b. An issue not addressed so far in these discussions is the idea that public schools are community schools. The underlying idea of local school control is to respond to the community needs. This, of course needs to be balanced with what students need to succeed. Community support for schools is an essential part of successful schools. c. As to “lax” filters, I do not know what that is. The filtering algorithms are proprietary and are not specifically revealed to the consumer. More than me blocking or allowing specific sites, these algorithms should be of more concern. For example, I have had to unblock National Public Radio and PBS. d. There are legal concerns, addressed in other posts, that our school board attorney has addressed. Our policy is based upon his recommendations, a model policy and my changes as well. e. Teachers are still responsible. I, as I mentioned in another post, act as an extra check for teachers. The content filter is a tool and guide, not a fence. f. Internet-assisted instruction is an interesting term that can mean many things. Simply using the Internet as a giant encyclopedia does not inform pedagogy or address student cognition. 2. Examples: a. I had one teacher post a link from his/her website that led to a page that look appropriate. The teacher did not see the clear advertising links to pornography sites that were on this page. Although our filter at school would stop students from linking to the site, it would have at home or in the public library. After a parent called, I fixed it and teacher apologized. b. Many teachers want students and themselves full access to photosearchs even though these are effectively filtered and thus would be a CIPA violation. c. Many teachers want access to Wikipedia and other similar sites. We block these because: i. There are and have been sexually explicit photos that our community will not support. ii. The site is non-authoritative. I understand the underlying premise of Wikipedia. However, the social negotiation (which is what Wikipedia is) of information as part of the constructivist paradigm of learning, should not exist online, rather it should be the mind of the student. d. We have had teachers do the following while they were suppose to be teaching: i. Playing games for hours at a time while students work on worksheets. ii. Betting/gambling on online (this was a sub) iii. Shopping and purchasing personal items. This too has been for hours at a time. iv. Using web based e-mail to for personal messages – not work related. v. Skyping to for personal discussions – teaching (taking up valuable bandwith). vi. Streaming music or video for personal – non instructional uses. No big deal if we had the bandwidth. vii. Social networking – Facebook or MySpace for hours at a time. viii. Book travel vacation trips. Other issues of filtering have to due with: 1. Security, hacking, etc. 2. Bandwidth issues. I am in a district that has very limited bandwidth (10 mb for 360 computers). This is being addressed with the Obama money in that our county has a 13 million dollar grant for a dark fiber network. We are about 1.5 to 2 year out on this though. 3. Teacher/student differences in access due to administrative policy/decisions. All of this together can make the issue appear larger than it is. I said in another post, most of the issues I deal with are the differences between teacher and student access due administrative policy and decisions concerning access. I would add to that bandwidth issues. We a have a number of internet based instructional and testing programs that we need to keep running in addition to e-mail and student research. Streaming media soaks up a lot of our 10mb of bandwidth. I got so tired of the bandwidth issue and talking about how important it was to use streaming only for instruction. Many teacher ignored this and did what they wanted anyway. So I blocked it for everyone in order to get there attention (I gave notice thatI was going to do this). I then allow it back to teachers that needed on a case by case basis after I reviewed with them specifically the importance of conserving bandwidth. Everyone who needs it got it back and I discussed it with each of them. Drastic? Yes. But the students come first. BTW, I do not currently block Youtube for teachers (after the situation above) because it does have a warning that comes up before non-appropriate material is brought up. The effectiveness of this warning is debatable as it is with any filter but it is there none the less. I do block all streaming for all students with the exception of a few that we have taking online courses. Given the bandwidth issue we have it would not work to have all students streaming video and music. I think another aspect not addressed here is innocence. I believe that many (not all) teachers demonstrate a level of innocence not share by many of their students. This should not be a surprise since after all they are good people who have entered a profession to good things for other people. They don’t always see the other, seedier side of life and are more trusting (in my view) than they should be. Perhaps my past experience as a deputy sheriff has given me a different slant on this. ============================== Larry Sanger <firstname.lastname@example.org> said... Jim Beal <email@example.com> wrote: > 1. I am responsible, I will control it. Most won't like this answer, > but that is the way it is. When you say "it," I assume you mean "use of the Internet in classrooms by teachers." How bewildering, yet refreshingly honest. (Finally, somebody who gives a straightforward answer.) You're saying (I gather) that you must take responsibility for any problems that arise as a result of lax filters. If someone can view something that he shouldn't be viewing, ultimately you are to blame and can be fired for it. Is that about the size of it? Well, that's a problem, to my mind. It sounds like you're saying that you're preventing Internet-assisted education from happening because you're afraid of losing your job. That's a non sequitur if I ever heard one. Why aren't the teachers made to take responsibility, instead? I'm sure this sounds like a hopelessly naïve question, but humor me. What's the answer? > 2. Generally, Tech savvy teachers are younger and do not enough non-tech wisdom to use it properly. Really? I'd ask you the same question I asked Joe Frost: can you give me some examples of abuses that, as you say, these young and foolish teachers will generally commit? I'm not doubting that you can offer some examples--I'd really like to know what they are. I admit I'm skeptical, but if you could swear that awful abuses would be *common* if teachers were granted general access, then I think I would be able to understand your policy better. I have a professional interest in this topic, which is why I'm learning about it and my goal in the discussion is to improve how teachers (ultimately, students) are served by technology. The website I'm currently organizing, watchknow.org, is extremely useful to teachers, but they can't use it in most classrooms because most districts block YouTube, and most of our videos are embedded from YouTube. Mind you, they are all hand-selected or -approved by teachers, and we don't include "related" links, and in every other respect we have created a site that should be trustworthy for classroom use. To my knowledge, only ENA, which manages the filters for 100 of the districts in the state of Tennessee, has configured their Bluecoat filter so as to whitelist any video objects that are included in WatchKnow. So WatchKnow is disproportionately used in Tennessee, where it can be used in many classrooms. This directly affects our traffic. Other districts/states with blunter instruments, so to speak, end up preventing classroom use of our site, preventing what would otherwise total thousands of hours of classroom instruction with innovative material. It all reminds me of Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services: http://www.flickr.com/photos/terry/2046773870/ --Larry ----- Lawrence M. Sanger, Ph.D. | http://www.larrysanger.org/ Editor-in-Chief, Citizendium | http://www.citizendium.org/ Executive Director, WatchKnow | http://www.watchknow.org/ firstname.lastname@example.org --- Edtech Archives, posting guidelines and other information are at: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~edweb Please include your name, email address, and school or professional affiliation in each posting. To unsubscribe send the following command to: LISTSERV@H-NET.MSU.EDU SIGNOFF EDTECH