Since making the decision to move into the realm of educational technology, I've had one common reaction from teachers: Make them take off the filters. By "them," they mean their districts' policy people (and IT staff)...and by "filters," they mean anything blocking the use of web tools in their classrooms.
I feel their pain. In 2005, I tried blogging with my AP students...only to have repeated junk from IT shoved in my face to kill the project. In 2008, I had to turn my class into outlaws in order to use GoogleDocs to write lesson plans for 5-year old children. I can name any number of other instances where IT caused maximum damage to the instructional process. Since then, I've had people outside the district tell me that the "neanderthals" running the filter there have one of the most restrictive set of practices in the entire state.
All this being said, I am not in a position to make any changes to the ways districts do business...much as teachers here would like. There are few things that can be done at the state level when local control governs things. However, I can certainly do a lot of modeling of tools and listen and suggest to teachers when and wherever possible.
The past few weeks have been particularly interesting for me on Twitter, as I see how many teachers are frustrated by similar restrictions. I'm sorry, IT people, but you can't blame everything on limited bandwidth and/or CIPA. Don't tell me that you're just following what the school board says, because we know better. We know that the board doesn't tell you to block specific sites---that kids are not allowed to participate in Nings or build wikis to show their learning. You interpret guidelines...and, frankly, some of you are doing it wrong.
When I saw this tweet the other day, my heart sank at first. You see, for all its flaws I really do believe in public education. But it needs to pull its head out of...the dark ages...and allow more flexibility in instruction and learning. Now, I am thinking that parents like Alec may be the ones who provide the tipping point to get the filters scaled back (at minimum) and removed (at best). Teachers are ignored where this issue is concerned...kids are in a powerless position (and usually excluded from conversations regarding instruction and tools). Here's hoping that someone can make it stop.