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Larry: Takes you back, doesn't it? You've written a great piece here. And, although I can't say I've really been following all of the tit for tat in this thread, I basically agree, philosophically, with yours and Nancy's underlying opinion here. But I can't say I'm quite as passionate as Nancy is for how this all plays out in the schools. After 20 years of Internet use in instruction (12 of those in a teacher support role), I think I can safely say that, as important as this topic might be at the policy level, at the classroom level, it's a tempest in a teapot. How bad does filtering really hurt instruction? Quite frankly, not very much. Nancy gets angry about the possibility of a teacher developing a lesson plan at home, and having it hamstrung at work. That happens so rarely in reality that, despite my overall philosophy on this, it's very hard for me to get bent about it. There are several flaws in that battle: 1) Teachers don't really work completely in isolation like that anymore...they know that there's a difference between how things work at home, and how they work at school. Those who don't have bigger problems than those generated by a blocked resource. 2) There is nothing so unique about a single Internet resource that its presence or absence will make or break an assignment. If there IS something that unique, then it's probably not blocked, or unblocking it will be non-controversial. And, as others have pointed out, the number of quality and useful sites drops precipitously the younger the student is, making the entire battle completely moot at the elementary (and perhaps middle school) level. But the most important reason why Internet filtering figures so small in the classroom is that, in fact, the open Internet is really a lousy teacher -- it's terribly slanted towards the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy, and, even at that level, is buried in misleading and misdirected information. We do have a responsibility to TEACH Internet use, but for the bulk of core content, Kids don't really learn from exploring the Internet, they learn from taking information they find there and elsewhere and doing knowledge construction tasks and projects. The latter requires the support of student-teacher and student-student interactivity, with appropriate tasks which exploit that. That's the real work of a face-to-face classroom, and, online, points to a learning management system or other interactive platform. In our district, we handle that internally (with Moodle), wiping out the "Open Web 2.0" battle as well. There are lots of discussions which would have brought those old LISTSERV discussion behaviors Larry mentions out of me. This isn't one of them. As the politicians and Nancys and other policy-players fight their battles, the teachers I support go about the business of instruction, only occasionally mildly miffed that a handful of Internet sites that might be useful are blocked. Like many districts, in ours, un-block requests are handled quickly and without much fanfare, the teacher recommendation being usually enough to get it done. But my responsibilities towards teachers now are in constructing interactive activities online using a small, select number of open Internet resources to support them. Our district's current level of blocking does not provide a kibble's worth of problems in that pursuit. Jeff Jeffrey L. Jones, District Technology Resource Teacher Coordinator, Virtual Classrooms and Communications, Fayette County Schools Fayette's iSchool - http://ischool.fcps.net/ The Point, a Fayette County Blogspot - https://edtech.fcps.net/blog/ 701 East Main Street Lexington, KY 40502 (859)381-4124 firstname.lastname@example.org "You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." "Why, what did she tell you?" "I don't know, I didn't listen." - Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) > From: Larry Sanger <email@example.com> > > What a great discussion. Reminds me of a slightly more polite version of > the early Internet. :-) > > By way of giving a summation, I just want to underscore a few points once > again. (And which Miles Fidelman made very well. I agree, Miles, that the > statement we commented on looks very arrogant, but you have to admire the > refreshing honesty of it. Even people I largely agree with are frequently > not so wonderfully forthcoming with their real views.) > > (1) Why not simply punish the teachers who violate policy? Worry about and > the threat of being caught is as big an enforcer of policy as actual > sanctions. > > How might this look? Again, the filter can remain in place, but teachers > (only teachers) can *override* the filter. When a teacher is logged in to a > teacher account, and clicks on a link to a verboten site, an "are you > sure?"-type prompt might pop up, together with a scary warning and a link to > district policy; and then the accessed URLs go into a log, which the tech > directors can then review. Maybe the URLs should be posted for *public* > review, so the *parents* can look over the teacher's shoulder. Maybe that > could be effective. Also, teachers might even be given a prompt to fill out > an on-the-spot one-line written justification of why specific-URL access is > needed. But then access is given instantly. > > This would make it simple to review teacher use of the Internet. If they > violate policy, even with the scary warnings, their override privileges are > removed for a time. Other appropriate sanctions could be devised, such as > more frequent reviews of their browsing, or permanent notes on their > records. > > Joe Frost, with all due respect, why should it be *your* job to ensure that > teachers prepare a lesson plan before they view something on the Internet? > If your answer is that you bear the responsibility for policy violations, my > point is that you shouldn't--that the teachers should be made to do so. You > then take responsibility for issuing sanctions for violating the policy. > But maybe you're not in a position to make this happen. If you're > implementing policy you're *not* responsible for, I wouldn't hold you > personally accountable for its existence; maybe we should be complaining > about/to school boards and/or superintendants. > > (2) Do these potential abuses really justify the harm done to *all* teachers > and students in not being able to, for example, watch free educational > videos online? (I would argue that preventing access to legitimate > educational materials is harmful to the education of children.) > > In answering, it will not do to claim that the filters work pretty well. > First of all, the fact that legit content is blocked is what we're talking > about, after all, and if filters did not block a lot of such content, we > wouldn't be having this conversation. If you need a good example, you can > consider WatchKnow to be the poster child for this issue: its content is > blocked by most districts because they block YouTube, and most districts do > not have filters that allow the intelligent sort of filtering that would > give access to it, as most districts in Tennessee have. > > Really, we're talking about making two things compete, which shouldn't be > competing: on the one hand, there is freedom of access to high-quality > educational information, and on the other hand, there is the district's > desire not to have Internet filter policy violated. Both are important, but > what is the higher priority? Education--not rules, especially over-strict > bureaucratic rules. > > (3) Finally, please do not confuse letting teachers override the filters > with giving students total access. I still don't know what Nancy's view on > this is, but using filters at least to make it harder for students to access > *obviously* inappropriate material on the Internet seems like a very good > idea to me. But in doing that, it is a terrible idea to prevent teacher > access to the resources they need for teaching. You Mordacs should > proactively support and enable that, not prevent it. > > Regards, > 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