wasting bandwidth since 1999

Playing Hide and Seek With Web 2.0

What a wonderful thing to discover first thing Monday morning: someone in our overly large school district has decided to block flickr. Add that to a growing list of stupid choices.

All of our students are, of course, protected from the evils of MySpace. In most (if not all) of our high schools they may not use YouTube, iTunes, Bloglines, or anything with a blogspot address.

Many elementary schools have put Google Images behind the barrier. A few schools at all levels are even stopping del.icio.us.

I hope our administrators understand that hiding these and other resources only offers an incredibly false sense of security to the adults involved.

I’m pretty sure many of our students (even in elementary schools) already know at least some of the workarounds on Boing, Boing’s Guide to Defeating Censorware.

If not, I’m tempted to send the list to some of them myself.

It’s time to stop playing these games and instead teach our students how to effectively and responsibly use these Web 2.0 tools.

censorship, school, flickr


  1. Scott McLeod

    But, Tim, Flickr has nekked people on there…!

  2. Tim

    A second grader in one of our schools was recently punished for doing a Google search for “naked women”. I thought he should have been rewarded for spelling both words correctly. :-)

  3. Brian B.

    The “blocking monster” eats up a lot of good websites in the name of the Children’s Internet Protection act. While it obviously creating a false reality for our students, maybe it is how we are handling the technology that is the problem? I mean – I’ve seen it a hundred times that students are given a computer to entertain themselves instead of instruction. If no one else will admit to it, I will. I had a case full of laptops in my classroom and when a student got done with their activity for the day it was often very easy to let them use the computer in a “less-than-supervised” manner. I had a young man lose his network access because he printed pornographic material – not from my room, but from the library. But guess where he learned to circumvent the filter? Charge me, I’m guilty.

    I walk by computer labs in my school system now and see a handful to a dozen students playing online games instead of actively participating in learning. I think they would enjoy building the games as much as playing them – let’s try that out instead.

    I learned that students have to be given an activity when using technology – its not a babysitter. I agree, we must teach our students how to use the Internet without that false reality, but some mindsets about technology are going to have to change first.

  4. Peter Stinson

    Well, of course… all that user-generated stuff, including those pictures of nekkid people… It all needs to be blocked; my word, we don’t want our children to actually be exposed to anything, even if something good might come of it. We have to control what our children see; we have to censor what our children see. We ought to shut down televisions stations next, and perhaps even stop newspapers and news magazines from being delivered to homes with children and libraries. My word, what might our children stumble across? Sure, some good, some learning could come from all those tools, but there’s nothing like a good book… oh, wait, we need to get rid of some of those, too. Anything with any hint of sex or sexuality, and any hint of anything religious, or even beliefs; those all need to be tossed out of our school libraries. And history, too. History is too murky; get rid of history books, too, while we’re working at cleaning things up.

    I think that ought to be a good start… what say you?

  5. Andrew Pass

    Tim, It might be a really interesting social studies lesson to involve kids in determining what sites to block and which ones not to. Years ago somebody told me that as a class project his class seceeded (Ok, the second grader is a better speller than me) from the school and every other form of government. The class then set up their own government. If classes did this, I imagine they still wouldn’t get around the “iron curtain” without some hacking?

  6. pete reilly

    So, the feeling of the group is that there is nothing on the Internet that kids might run into that could be harmful? And age has no place in this discussion?


  7. Tim

    I can’t speak for everyone else but I’m not in favor of eliminating filters altogether. There are certainly some sites that need to be blocked. And there are sites which should not be available to elementary students that are acceptable for older kids.

    My problem with blocking software is that it is too often used as a substitute for teaching students responsibility. In our district, the policy is “when in doubt, block it”. We don’t consider that many of the tools I listed are being used by students outside of school. We could also incorporate them into lessons on how to responsibly use and publish to the web.

    And I agree with Andrew that filtering policies should involve students. We should get students far more involved in many educational policies. After all, it’s their education, not ours.

  8. Poor_Statue

    I was thinking about exactly this today. I want to ask the principal to find someone who can teach the kids about responsible internet use rather than expecting the teachers to see everything and the students not to get around it. I was inspired by my unsuccessful attempt to delete some spyware from a student’s computer profile. All I could think was that if the kids are going to do it anyway (download programs, find shortcuts), why not teach them (and the teachers) how to do it responsibly?

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