Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

#OpenBeta5 and Ideas for the Balanced Filtering Online Gradebook

Last night I had the opportunity to share five minutes of passion and ideas about at OpenBeta5 in Oklahoma City. The lightning talks were recorded, and I’m hoping will be posted to YouTube soon. I’ll link and embed my talk here when it’s published. One of the exciting things I learned about at OpenBeta was we’re going to have a TEDx event in Oklahoma City this spring! See for more details. The date is set for April 8, 2011. Once my OpenBeta5 lightning talk is published, I think I’ll submit it for consideration by the TEDxOKC organizers.

In the meantime, I want to move forward with development of a “Balanced Filtering Online Gradebook” for schools and school districts. This will be a free tool useable by anyone, anywhere, and the app will log submissions. Submitter’s names and email addresses will be optional. The app, like ClustrMaps, will geo-locate the submitter’s location based on IP address. The simple web form will ask for school name and location too, however, since many schools are in the same geographic area. I sketched out the three parts of this process, as I’m envisioning it now, on my daughters’ whiteboard and took these photos with my iPhone.

Grade My Filter: Step 1

Grade My Filter: Step 2

Grade My Filter: Step 3

One of the important things I want to do with this application is draw attention to BOTH schools who are currently doing a great job with balanced filtering (like Howe Public Schools in Oklahoma) as well as schools doing a TERRIBLE job with draconian content filtering (like Edmond Public Schools in Oklahoma, where my two girls attend now.) Just as websites like (formerly provide a level of public transparency, visibility, and accountability for aggregate rates of instructor/professor performance at universities, I want the “Online Gradebook” to make thousands of people in our communities take notice of how LOCAL school districts are handling Internet content filtering. Are school leaders enabling students to learn how to become responsible digital citizens? Does the district have a pro-active, well formulated strategy for helping promote perceptions of online accountability on as well as off-campus, or do district leaders think simply having draconian content filtering in place will suffice as a digital citizenship curriculum?

I want to showcase and amplify school districts and school district leaders who ARE taking a balanced approach toward content filtering. I hope the site can (eventually) provide not only this “Online Gradebook” for school content filtering, but also a variety of tools and resources for educators, parents, church leaders, and others in our communities who want to engage in the dialog necessary to raise responsible digital citizens. The online gradebook is a step in this direction.

I would love to “code local” with an Oklahoma City-based developer or developer team for this project. If you’re interested, please contact me. If I can’t find someone in Oklahoma to work with, I am certainly open to other offers. I also am considering posting this as a job for bid on I was pleased with the results of a small webscraping job I posted there over the summer, and have a couple friends who have had good outsourced coding experiences on similar sites. If possible though, I’d like to work local. As OpenBeta5 showed last night, we have an AWESOME group of creative and passionate geeks in Oklahoma!

If you’re interested in this project, in addition to offering your comments and feedback here please subscribe to the blog and follow @balancedfilter on Twitter. (Today the account just has 3 followers. Be number 4!)

Cross-posted to