Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not a filter, but a bowl

Will Richardson brought up one of every curriculum technology person's favorite topics: The Filter. We all know the Filter. What does the Filter filter? Many times, not a thing. Many times it's not so much a filter as it is a bowl.
I am EXTREMELY fortunate to have a tech department that trusts, yet critiques, our Internet openness. They are not opposed to opening up the filter as long as we understand the "ramifications" of having a website unblocked. We do not block YouTube. We do block MySpace and Facebook. We have also looked into creating different layers of filters for/because of our students. But Mr. Richardson makes a valid point: Locking down your filter can make your students less safe. When they go home, there isn't (usually) a filter, allowing them to access anything and everything. So isn't it in our students' best interest if we teach them about the Internet instead of hiding them from it? This isn't a case of what they don't know won't hurt them. I also love what Mr. Richardson says about how a locked down filter "insults the profession" by blocking teachers out from the same websites as students. It tells me that you don't respect teachers enough to put in the extra time to create layers of filtering.


Michelle said...

We have a filter that is SUPPOSED to treat students differently than the adults, but there are daily glitches.

As I mentioned on Twitter, I have an Internet Safety Tips page on that brings up the same issue-- locking kids out at school teaches them nothing. When they go home, they're roaming wild... especially if their parents don't understand what kids are doing.

In our district, it's not just the techs making the filter decisions. I know many schools consult with their legal teams who pore over CIPA and COPPA every time there is a filter issue. Perhaps we need to take this the next step and approach federal "ears" about these issues. Don't think I haven't considered it. ;-)

Beth Still said...

What a timely topic! I think it is sad that educators waste so much time fighting techs and filters. I understand that there are reasons some sites are blocked, but I am insulted each time a tech tells me that what I want unblocked has "no educational value." Isn't that my decision as a teacher?