It’s unfortunate but true that in many US schools as well as some countries (like China) “web shortener” URLs like tinyurl.com, bit.ly, ow.ly, etc are BLOCKED. If you’re in this boat, give Untiny a try. If this site is unblocked, you can enter the shortened URL into Untiny and it will convert / extract / reveal the original website address so you can link to it from behind a content filter.

Untiny - Extract full website addressed from a shortened URL

Of course, if the original website is blocked (or if Untiny is blocked) you can always resort to using a proxy to bypass a content filter. Folks may think of proxy sites as just something students use at school to get to blocked websites, but that is not true: It’s also something that must be done in China by people of all ages (including yours truly) to access websites like my handouts site (on pbworks.com), Twitter, Bit.ly, my personal wiki (created with Google Sites), the K-12 Online Conference Ning, Our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices learning community (created with Ning), YouTube, and Diigo.

We need more than a campaign to simply “unmask the digital truth.” At some point in the not too distant future, I think we need to coordinate a collective action campaign to change school Internet filtering policies around the United States – and potentially in other countries where overly strict filtering policies are enforced. I’ve been thinking about this more since last week’s presentation for librarians in Norman, Oklahoma, who are easing restrictions in the Pioneer Library System for social networking sites, as well as my recent trip to China and wrangling with the “Great Firewall of China.”

H/T to A. Kiptka for the link to Untiny.

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5 Responses to Accessing the web where URL shorteners don’t work? Problem solved with Untiny

  1. Cliff Baker says:

    “At some point in the not too distant future, I think we need to coordinate a collective action campaign to change school Internet filtering policies around the United States – and potentially in other countries where overly strict filtering policies are enforced.”

    I like your idea, but think that it would be beneficial to have some reasonable alternate policy to propose to District IT depts. As you are in touch with people nationally, have you found such a policy in place? Or would it be possible to come up with one? If such a policy were readily available to propose, I think lots of people would be willing to push their local people to adopt it. I certainly would.

    Also, I’d like to thank you for the work you do–you have been a great resource for me, and I’m sure many others trying to get “up to speed” with our new digital world.

  2. paul shircliff says:

    advising people to use a proxy to bypass their filter is not a good thing.
    I disagree with a majority of the filtering, but having someone violate their AUP keeps sending a bad message to the kids “break the rules if you do not like them or if they inconvenience you.”
    Tell them to actively work to get sites unblocked or actively pursue a less strict filter.
    There are many sites, web-apps that I want unblocked and as I come across them I get them to our overworked tech people. I keep reminding them I need things unblocked until it happens.

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Cliff: I totally agree “reasonable, alternate policies” need to be proposed and showcased in a campaign like this. Exemplary AUPs and other policies need to be showcased.

    Thanks for the feedback as well. You are most welcome! 🙂

    Paul: I agree having to resort to using a proxy is not a good situation, but what else would you have recommended for me when I was in China so I could access the learning community on Ning for our K-12 Online Conference? It is troubling that we find this type of content filtering in our public US schools, as well as the closed society which is modern China.

  4. Chan Bliss says:

    I was reading on e-school news about new rules for schools e-rate. http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=61672
    According to the article school will have to “certify that they are, “as part of [their] internet safety policy, …educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking web sites and in chat rooms and cyber bullying awareness and response.”
    My interpretation of this is that districts will have to do more than just block sites they will have to have in-place ways to teach how to safely use the sites.

  5. Lisa Thumann says:

    Wes – I just came across this today…
    Check out http://www.unhid.co.cc/ to unshorten shrunken URLs. They even have a bookmarklet you can install on your toolbar!

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