In Karl Fisch's latest post he talks about his network and the changes that have been made to it. I want you to read this, especially if your district blocks his blog - or all blogs. I even heard tell this week of a district that blocks all blogs, all wikis, and all social ANYTHING sites. Let me point out a couple things from his post:
1) "Anyone who owns a device that uses the standard wireless protocols (802.11 a/b/g right now) will be able to connect to our wireless network and access the Internet" - That alone is enough to pucker most network folks. Do you recall Karl's 20-20 vision (http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2006/11/2020-vision.html) presentation in which he predicted this? Many people scoffed at it as being WAY too liberal a policy to be practical. Well, here it is. I recall doing a presentation one time at a district where I wanted to use my own (work) laptop. You wouldn't believe what I had to go through to be able to use it. That wouldn't have happened had I been at his district. Just connect and go.
2) "The Active Directory override allows all staff members to enter their login credentials and override many of the sites that the filter blocks. This allows them to use their discretion about using a site that may be blocked but is still educationally appropriate, and also allows them to get to a site to evaluate if it is appropriate." - What's that? Allow teachers to override the filter? HERESY? An OUTRAGE? Impossible?... WONDERFUL! FANTASTIC! Imagine giving control of the internet to those people with whom we are entrusting our children and assuming that they will use good judgement in their choices. WHat's the worst consequence of this great idea? You might have a teacher who uses poor judgement, or you may have one who decides to follow her stocks all day long or to monitor their ebay account. What then? I liked what one principal said in a meeting recently. He said, "I want to KNOW which teachers are doing that when they should be teaching a class. At least that way I can get rid of them. But, to restrict the Internet to such a point that it interfere's with the education we're trying to provide to our students just to protect the teachers from themselves doesn't make sense." Here here!
3) "... they had to re-setup the categories of what was blocked and what was allowed. As part of that process, we now have lost access to YouTube, Google Video and other similar video sites. Previously we had had full access to those sites, and many teachers and students had used them effectively." WHAT? They could get to YouTube and Google Videos? NEVER!!!! NOMN! (Not On MY Netowork!) This goes to show that the laws that so many are quoting to justify blocking the sites are VERY subjective. A case can be made to open them up. Many districts DO have them open. If you've got the right kind of filter (Karl's district just went to the 8e6 filter - the same one the IU uses, in fact) you can allow the teachers to override, at least.
4) "Our philosophy is to have high expectations for our students, to educate them to behave ethically, responsibly and safely and then expect that they will do the right thing. When they don’t, they know we’ll have a conversation and try to learn from the mistake, but we don’t assume they are going to screw up. In other words, our philosophy has been to educate, not ban." Read that again. One more time. "Our philosophy has been to educate, not ban."
Karl Fisch for PRESIDENT!!
Read the entire post. Forward it to your curriculum director. Start the conversation. LEAD the conversation! There is WAY too much at stake to allow business as usual, in some cases.