Friday, October 19, 2007

Something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this picture

I work for an Intermediate Unit in Central PA. The CAIU #15, to be exact. I'm a very lucky man.

I just received an email from a person in another IU (of which there are 29) in the state and this person asked me if I had any contact information for Will Richardson since he spoke at last year's PETE&C conference and I'm this year's Conference Committee President.

No, I didn't have any special address, but I did go to his blog and copy the url of his "Contact Me" page and sent it off to her saying that it was the only way I had to reach him. She wrote back saying that his site was BLOCKED at her IU so she'd have to check it from home later on. AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

There is SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG with a filter system - or POLICY - that will block the sites of the very people you are trying to reach for their expertise in this area. Am I right here? We've got ADULTS who are put in charge of bringing in quality speakers to address their teachers and staff about what wonderful things this technology brings to education - and they are prevented from seeing those very sites!! WHO IS MAKING THAT OUTRAGEOUS DECISION?? Get that person OUT of there! What's behind it? FEAR? It's obvious that the person making that decision is NOT an educator, nor does this person read blogs or even KNOW what a learning network is. Put ME in charge there and that person would be looking for a new job faster than he could say, "Blog!" Yes, I know that I may be called upon face-to-face to defend that position, and I'm READY!

I write this in complete confidence that he will never see it, however. This is a blog - something that is blocked there, after all. This reminds me of a previous post in which I lamented the fact that I listened to several folks who said that they won't even tell their teachers that it's possible for them to have a different filtering policy than the students.

You know, this isn't fun and games any more. The state of PA is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into education, most recently in two projects designed to a) build a state-wide WAN that connects all (most) of our districts to a high speed WAN, and b) the Classrooms for the Future project which will help our teachers learn what they're calling the "21st century teaching model" AND providing dollars to put laptops in the schools. In my humble, but FIRM opinion, we can no longer tolerate the kinds of attitudes that block sites based on ignorance, or that disable cd-rom drives in even the teacher machines, (Yes, I read that one just today, too), or that block blogs wikis, and podcasts in the name of 'protecting the network.' (I read that one, too, and I called it 'criminally outrageous!) These folks DO NOT BELONG in those positions, and schools CANNOT AFFORD to be cavalier about it any longer. If a district has the ability to provide different filtering policies for the teachers and chooses NOT to just for convenience sake, then something is terribly wrong there.

Keep in mind, I'm not advocating total unrestricted access. What I AM saying is that it flies in the face of logic and reason to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase "good laptops" only to cripple them to the point where they are all but unusable, and then to prevent the use of the very tools that say are exactly the kinds of tools that today's students need to be successful in life. Spock's brain would go into a fatal "TILT!" if he heard this nonsense.

When will someone of authority step up to the plate and say, "I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with the policy that restricts these sites from our teachers. I want it changed NOW! This is an EDUCATION policy that I WANT for the children and staff of this district, and if YOU can't make it happen, then I will get someone who WILL."

Now if you'll excuse me I must take a pill - or something.

OK, Jim, focus..... center..... ohmmmmmm......

1 comment:

Cathy Nelson said...

OH yes--feeling your pain. Am giving a 1.5 hour district workshop on the 29th--topic--Web 2.0. The district asked me to do it. Many of the very sites I want to talk about, visit, showcase, or demo are BLOCKED! I am supposed to submit a list by Wed of the sites I'll need. They will be considered for unblocking just for that day! LOL.