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I believe it is important that we educate children on how to responsibly access the Internet. It is impossible to do this with complete/blanket filtering. I would suggest a scaffolded approach whereby students access the Internet with a gradually reducing amount of filtering according to age/stage.
And who "filters" the kids when they leave the classroom? Smartphones are more and more common ... we don't (can't) control those.
It's our job to teach kids to be responsible, not shelter them from the parts of the real world we don't like.
Look how helpful the US prohibition of alcohol has been ... countries that have no regulation of alcohol have very few alcohol related problems.
Maybe we should try to "learn" ourselves ...
See my recent Blog posts and Elluminate discussion about this:
I agree with Rosemary that you should have filters set at different levels. This is especially true for the students and teachers. Any decent filter can control access by user or subnet. My filter allows teachers almost everything, middle school a medium amount of access, and elementary students or visitors a select list of categories or sites. With more and more stuff moving to the cloud, I think this kind of control on your content filter is quickly becoming a necessity.
I fall between Very Little and Somewhat. There is more to be filtered than porn, inlcuding hate sites, hacking/cracking sites, proxies, etc. I don't feel that any site with educational value that does not fall into one of the catagories already mentioned should be filtered. We provide teachers with a filter bypass password that changes weekly that will get them to any site other than those mentioned (porn, hate, etc.).
As a middle school teacher, I often find it difficult to have our students using the things I want them to be able to. Our district blocks a lot of the bad things, which is great; but unfortunately, that makes it where video sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and much more are also blocked. As a teacher, the only thing I can do is download & convert them from home and show them in class. (Which is time consuming and time is something we don't have a lot of.) I can't even link or embed them in our classroom blog. I say, make it so each student has a log-in code and then have the filter check what the students are on. This way you only punish the offender, not the community.
It's a hard one I know, but I really believe we should have compleatly unfiltered access to the internet and e-mail in schools. Perhaps we could have a gradual lifting of filtering restrictions as a child progresses, but essentially it should be unfiltered. Why?
1. As educators, surely it is our duty to educate all aspects of a childs' development. They are young and they are developing; they will make mistakes and errors of judgement and we should be there to support them and educate them through these (often naive) errors. At home I find this next to impossible with my own kids, who like most can get round most filtering systems. So what better place is there than the safe, secure and supportive learning environment of a school. We can monitor and observe and be there to educate when things go wrong.
2. How may people at this moment accross the world are being disciplined or sacked in the workplace for inappropriate use of the internet or e-mail? Schools should be addressing this issue. We won't address it by trying to teach them the issues then moving onto the next big issue. We must enable students to develop good habits. The best way to do this is by being given the opportunity to make mistakes and supported to learn from them.
I'm a principal of a secondary school in the UK. I know my parents won't allow me to do this because the staus quo is maintained and Britain is ruled by Daily Mail and Daily Express readers. I don't know what the equivalent newspapers are in the USA but I guess you know what I'm talking about.
Get real! Structured assignments keep learners on-task.
Nonetheless, my district blocks everything. It is to the point of hindering instruction and learning. Only a specified person is authorized to perform routine web application upgrades, e.g., Flash Player or even Acrobat. One teacher's father bought a printer for her classroom...that was three weeks ago; can't be installed without admin. privileges.
Here, there is a huge budget deficit district-wide. As a result, the resources for tech response from the Help Desk has atrophied. Our computer lab just received response to failed server connection six weeks into this school year!
In addition, Teachers are prohibited from using the school's Internet access network, if, for example, a privately owned laptop is the system to be interfaced; it's a no-go even given those long ago laptops our governor passed out to teachers.
I suppose, tech services must be commensurately competent and funded to allow such a diverse array of requests for Net access.