The Internet world of many teachers I mentor at several different schools has been shaken up recently by the installation of “new and improved” school filtering systems. It is not the fault of these schools’ tech coordinators, who are struggling valiantly to unblock good resources and keep within the boundaries of policy and law while they are doing it. Rather, the schools have been sold services by vendors who seem to believe that the ‘read only’ web is easier to deal with in educational settings and do not understand the learning power of Web 2.0. These new so-called 'safe and effective' filtering systems block everything related to the read/write web, leaving overworked tech support to make decisions about what to unblock, case-by-case. This takes time and many schools simply do not have enough tech support people on board to handle this. So teachers who had been using a blog site or a wiki, for instance, go to school one day with lesson plans in hand, only to find that what site worked last week is now blocked, and there may be a week or two lag time before the tech support person gets time to unblock the site. Meanwhile, student interest lags, teachers are pressured by time and curriculum, and a great project gives way to a more traditional learning environment of lecture and worksheets or paper/pen writing assignments.
Last night, trying to catch up on some blog reading of my own, I found there is a project that just recently started up to promote more informed use of school filtering systems. Using the slogan, “I Read Blocked Blogs”, a Wiki at: http://ad4dcss.wikispaces.com/I+read+blocked+blogs
, and “Word of Web 2.0 Tools”
, the word is spreading rapidly.
Think about getting involved with this yourself! I am a firm believer that over-use of a filtering system is an ineffective way to teach 21st Century Literacy Skills; skills our students and our teachers must have to be successful in today's world. We need to use the "Word of Web 2.0 Tools' effectively ourselves, and get the word out. There is power in information!