If you're reading this, count yourself lucky. In many school districts, blogs and other web 2.0 tools are blocked. It doesn't take much time looking around the edusphere to gauge the continual frustration teachers have.
The purpose of Blocked Blogs week is "To promote awareness of the need for more informed filtering of the Read/Write Web for all learners. We recognize that some material on the internet is not appropriate and in some cases is harmful to children and adolescents. However, we are opposed to blanket bans on all Read/Write Web resources such as blogs, wikis, and some social networking tools. Read/Write Web resources provide valuable and necessary experience with 21st Century communication and collaboration tools, and we believe that it is in the best interests of our learners if we take the time to TEACH them how to use these tools appropriately, safely, effectively, and efficiently rather than just block their use altogether."
Does this describe you? Do you believe that information literacy is important to our children? Do you find the ignorant use of filters in your district to be over the top---especially knowing that other schools and districts are better serving the children in their classrooms? Post your thoughts this week. I would especially encourage you to participate in the leadership call-out scheduled for July 4 and headed up by Scott McLeod.
Want a button for your blog? You can find them on the wiki for Blocked Blogs Week or you might use another graphic from Adrian Bruce like the one at the right.
In a recent comment on this blog, someone mentioned that we don't merely warn our children about the dangers of street traffic and then send them out to cross a highway. We hold their hands. We walk with them. We show them how to be safe. The same should be true for internet traffic.
You might have seen a recent study about the Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites:
"What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today," said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university's College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study. "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential."Isn't this what we should want for our classrooms? The NEA and AFT recently worked on identifying the gaps and gains in educational technology. Their findings revealed "that although all educators and students in public schools have some access to computers and the Internet, we have few assurances that they are able to use technology effectively for teaching and learning." The use of filtering software is creating serious issues of equity for students across the United States. Have a look at these examples of Classroom 2.0 in practice? Can you do these things with your students in your classrooms? I can't. Which of our kids are going to be better prepared for the working world in a few years? When will purposeful reflection by teachers be seen as professional and not scandalous?
Will a series of posts about greater access to technology cause a tear down of filtering software akin to the Berlin Wall? Not likely. However, it's time to start raising general public awareness. It's time that business owners and corporations realized that one or two people in school districts are impeding skill development of future workers. It's time that parents and families realized that a Big Brother mentality is eroding the rights of our students to share their thoughts with authentic audiences. It's time to let politicians and policy makers know that their intents for equitable education are not being realized in all places due to uneven use of filtering software. It's time to get loud.