I’m working on a new article for the TechEdge on tiered content filtering, which I wrote about recently in the post “Advocating for differentiated content filtering.” The basic idea is this: School districts as “best practice” should provide more permissive levels of content filtering for teachers on the school network, relative to students. As professionals, teachers should be trusted MORE than students to access appropriate content online. I do agree with those who advocate for more trust of students at school, but to move “this agenda” forward (promoting the constructive uses of read/write web technologies in our schools) I see tiered content filtering not as the “endgame” but as a step in the right direction for many schools. This must be done and CAN be done in U.S. schools in ways which keep schools in compliance with CIPA.
I brainstormed different issues that are coming up with IT directors and other school administrators today with a friend who is exploring these issues in his state, and these were some we came up with:
- Not understanding the issue (different levels for teachers and students) and seeing the entire proposal as bad because of objectionable content on some sites (like YouTube)
- Administrators scared to change their current, conservative network use policies because of CIPA but also perceived liability risks (see my post “When litigation fear rules the network” for more on this)
- Some IT administrators don’t know HOW to provide tiered content filtering: i.e. the specific hardware and software configurations on the network which can enable it.
- Some IT administrators don’t want the extra work and complexity which tiered content filtering would represent for them (after all, like business IT staff members many IT personnel in our schools continue to measure daily success by the metric of minimal numbers of “trouble tickets” at the help desk)
- Some administrators fear students will use teacher accounts, and teachers will not be diligent in preventing student network access with their accounts.
- Some IT administrators believe there is NOT any worthwhile content on sites like YouTube.
- Overall the perceptions of many IT administrators are VERY restrictive when it comes to content filtering, where (for example) ALL social networking websites are seen as inappropriate for EVERYONE, even administrators in many districts.
- Many IT directors come from a business rather than an educational background, so the entire idea of allowing more permissive access to network resources sounds like complete heresy.
Can you think of other “issues” or problems (real or imagined) with tiered content filtering that either HAVE come up or could come up in school districts implementing this idea? I’m doing research this week with some of our Oklahoma school districts who are currently implementing tiered content filtering, getting info about the specific hardware and software configurations they are using to do it.
One thought I had in brainstorming the above list today was: Why don’t proactive state education agencies publish officially endorsed “whitelists” of appropriate and approved social networking websites and share those with superintendents? If we don’t have advocacy for appropriate social networking websites at the state education agency level, how are the recommendations of the National School Board Association’s 2007 report “Creating and Connecting – Research and Guidelines on Online Social – and Educational – Networking” ever going to be advanced?
At this point, MANY of the school districts I’m working with here in Oklahoma block ALL social networking sites, including blogs. Two excellent sites I’d like to see whitelisted on ALL our Oklahoma school networks are the LeaderTalk team blog and our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Ning Social Network. Does anyone know of a state or national government which has done this: Published an officially endorsed “whitelist” of social networking sites? If so I’d love to hear who has done that, and what sites are on their list. I don’t think sites like Flickr and del.icio.us should be on a list like that, since many would argue (with some reasonable points, I’d predict) that those sites are not appropriate for school networks governed by CIPA. I do think students and teachers should have access to those sites, but the network should require authentication so access to those sites is logged and archived BY USER. I haven’t seen a school district utilizing a networking scheme which provides that type of accountability for all user behavior online– YET. I’m looking for it.
Ideally, I think parents should be able to login to the web portal of the district’s student information system (PowerSchool or another variant) and in addition to viewing info on student attendance, grades, cafeteria balance, and homework assignments, parents (as well as students, teachers and administrators) should be able to view a COMPLETE listing of websites accessed via the student’s official district login account. That type of an accountability system is POSSIBLE with today’s technologies, but I haven’t seen it being implemented… YET.
Thanks to everyone who shared ideas and feedback on this topic of tiered or differentiated content filtering already. If you have additional thoughts, links, or suggestions I’d love to hear them. I’ll be posting this article after I finish it later this week on my Tools for the TEKS website. My most recent article for the TechEdge, “Mobile Digital Storytelling,” was published in the Winter 2007 TechEdge with the title “Stories-To-Go: The empowering phenomenon of mobile text, audio and video.” For workshop and presentation links on that topic, see my wiki curriculum “Cell Phones for Learning.”
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On this day..
- EduBrawl! Pros Debate Mobile, Flipped and Games - 2013
- iPad: A Tool for Differentiation (in a primary classroom) #mace11 #edapp - 2011
- The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers (a book club discussion) - 2010
- Two Flowers Unblocks Ning - 2010
- Web 2.0 Projects by Laura Sadler #mace2010 - 2010
- Cell Phones R 4 More Than Texting: Let's plan for them, not ban them! - 2010
- Free Resources from Discovery Education #mace2010 - 2010
- Janet Wozniak: Think back to the reason you got into education: To change the world - 2010
- It takes leadership to get creative in schools and support the use of Skype - 2010
- Kansas Memory: Real Stories, Real People #mace2010 - 2010