As educators, we also take the role of second-parents to our students. It is then our obligation to teach them and to protect them. Protecting them from accessing websites that are not appropriate is one.

Should the teachers be in this same umbrella of protection? Should the teachers then be allowed to access the internet without restrictions? If so, where does the boundary lies - shopping sites, personal email sites, etc.

I need your thoughts please. Thank you.

Tags: filtering, internet

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I did enjoy reading your input and viewpoints indigo196 !
And they have led to many more items that should be addressed.

2) Approximately how much would it cost to wire an average school to allow 300 laptops to be wifi accessable to the internet simultaneously in one 3-story block building holding 1500 students? What company did it for you?

3) The best math textbooks I have ever used were written by experienced and practicing math teachers. Many math teachers regularly write small unit sections, because the textbook used does not adequately cover all topic areas. Any teacher who slavishly follows the examples and content of his textbook is sadly lacking in professional interest, or competence. Any practicing teacher who lacks the depth of knowledge to be able to write a textbook that he can use to teach his own math courses probably should not be in that classroom. I do believe that every School Board has at least 30% of its experienced senior teachers that are capable of writing the course curriculum content, for transfer by a programmer into textbook-like software into a website.
All the math topics have been known for centuries, and have been taught basically the same way for decades, if not centuries. The text-book-like curriculum content for the website, would only need to be written once, and could then be used forever by all math teachers in the Board, or even in the entire country or world, with only minor upgrading as required.

4) How do you block any image on a website? If someone places a gif image of the word "sex" on a website, how do you block it? It is not a keyword. It is an image like a photograph. All the porn that I see are images.
Perhaps you should challenge one of your senior tech-savvy students, how he would place blacklist-undetectable objectionable material onto your school website, and what he would do to make keyword blacklists useless.
The web is growing rapidly, but most of the new sites' contents are not relevant or related to education or usable in a classroom. The fastest growing sectors and largest portion of internet websites are porn, chatrooms, music/video downloads, ebay, youtube, myspace etc...
If you were to randomly access websites for a day, you would not find very many that you can actually use in a lesson or in your classroom. I bookmark my favourite sites, and after many years I only have about 80 that are of much use to me. I do not see why any teacher would have any difficulty regularly adding to a common whitelist as he wished.

Please tell me what whitelist, blacklist and appliance combination do you use? What company did you purchase them from? You are probably 100% correct in your comments. It is just that I have never been able to find such a system. Help me!

5) Student vandalism is a major problem in every school and impossible to monitor constantly.
That is why new hardware items, like Smartboards, pads, or tablets, should not be introduced into a classroom unless absolutely necessary, and then only after brainstorming what the students will do to sabotage the system. If a difficult student does not want to do math that day, then he may bend the brackets holding the projector, or steal the projector lens, or cut one of the cables, or crazy glue all the mouse balls, etc...
That is why we must try to develop a system that requires a minimum of monitoring!
I have my middle school (3 story old brick building with firewalls) completely covered with a managed wifi network. I use a Meru wireless network. They have unique proprietary features. They work on a single channel. That allows you to put AP's all over withouth having to worry about overlapping channels. Each AP will connect 30 clients. Because we have N we connect at speeds of 130 to 270 mbps raw. That is faster then standard wired clients (100mbps).

Although the Meru system is unique it is not uncommon to have 300 clients connected wirelessly in a school at once. Our high school is 1 to 1 with 1800 laptops on the network at all times. It take proper planning. You need to have it designed. Our middle school with 660 students cost us about $29K to make wireless. That may seem high but you have to realize that we built a wireless N network. IT replaces wires. It is actually saving us $.

As far as whitelist vs. blacklist. In order to develop the 21st century skills that our students need we must not block everything. We need to teach information literacy skills. We have to teach them how to filter. They must be able to take the entire web and find and use the tools they need. We of course need to have an internet filter for CIPA and ERATE compliance but we should not limit what gets through to a handful of sites.

Effective use of the technology would engage students and limit the negative reactions of students. Smartboards, tablets, pades etc are amazing tools. A good teacher with the right training can use these tools with the web to reach the students. Differentiated instruction, staff training and engaging lessons sounds like what your district should be working on instead of blocking and taking things away.
What is your districts bandwidth speed?
Middle school has a DS3 line with a 5 mbps pipe to the internet. The network has a cisco 4507R core with HP procurve switches on the edges and multiple fiber strands between IDF boxes.

The high school has a 50mbps internet pipe with fiber between both schools.
People still think that Youtube has no educational value?
I'm with you--YouTube is more trouble than it's worth. I find TeacherTube too slow. What I do it us zamzar to change the file type of the YouTube video I want to use, then post it where I can get to it.
Now that our new President is using YouTube for weekly addresses, killing the radio based address of our analog world - doesn't this make YouTube an educational resource?
How about these then:
http://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision
http://www.youtube.com/user/NatureVideoChannel
http://www.youtube.com/user/newscientistvideo
http://www.youtube.com/user/SciAmerican
http://www.youtube.com/user/GirlScientist

There are many more channels with excellent content.

Sure, as Nancy points out below there is a ton of low-brow stuff there as well. Set the rules about what is appropriate, have high expectations of your students, model self-restraint and if all else fails, ban a student account if they aren't using it appropriately.
Jason, no doubt there is good stuff---teachers in our district have access to YouTube so it's moot to me. My bias (in this discussion and many others) has to do with lowest common denominator. I feel like some teachers are suffering so much from the 'can't beat em--join 'em' mentality when much of what kids do in their out of school time with technology doesn't need to be in my classroom. There is no thinking involved.
OK, Donkasprzak, you got me there. Now if we can just find a classroom use for girls fighting in the bathroom, guys drinking beer upside down and old people with walkers dancing along with Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) we'll be set!
There are many options for CIPA compliance in your school districts. The installed product may in fact be the wrong choice for your district. Ultimately your teachers need to determine (by consensus) which filtering product best servers teaching.

I wrote an overview to CIPA back in November 2008 here and believe it can be of help. This is from a more technical view of managing CIPA configurations and dealing with requests for unblocking pages and playing specific YouTube videos.

Some issues are addressed simply by the fact CIPA is a federal law for the protection of minors. Other issues and questions posted all focus on the type of CIPA filter installed.
I know a school district that is using a scheme that is user ID based. Students have more restrictions that teachers. However, I would like to know what happens when a student is allowed to surf using a teachers' user ID. Some teachers are just naive and they allow this to happen. It's a sticky issue and it will now go away.

Evan

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