Today is Banned Website Awareness Day, and all across the country, educators are doing their part to raise awareness of how overly restrictive blocking of educational websites affects student learning.
The dialogue around filtering must also include bring-your-own-device policies, appropriate use of social media in schools, and overall responsible use of technology in school. Each of these issues plays an important part in the equation that influences school policy around filtering websites. For example, do students and teachers use social media sites like Edmodo or even Facebook for class purposes? Are educational videos on YouTube part of teachers’ curriculum? In large school districts, does it make sense to have individual school policies? Are students allowed to use their cell phones?
Part of the investigation into what filtering policies to put in place revolves around understanding current rules and regulations — and that’s the problem, according to Michelle Luhtala, a librarian at New Cannan High School and one of the primary organizers of Banned Websites Awareness Day.
“People believe the rules are far more restrictive than they really are.”
“People believe the rules are far more restrictive than they really are,” she said. “Most people are working off of policies that predate 2003, and so much has happened since then, and continues to happen.”
In a recent survey of nearly 700 teachers, principals, and school librarians, conducted by MMS Education and co-sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data, 55% of respondents said they had somewhat restrictive policies of access to Web 2.0 tools (social media sites) for teachers, and 23% said they had very restrictive policies. And when it came to students, 44% said they had somewhat restrictive policies of access, and 47% said they had very restrictive policies.
Most of the blocked sites are either social media sites, or have some element of public sharing of information, and that’s where school administrators need to be more flexible, Luhtala said. “Administration more than teachers need to open their minds to the value and potential of social networking for Continue reading