Monday, July 06, 2009

No Fear of Lawsuits, eh?

You're right, this is NOT a scientific survey. But, the results are interesting, nonetheless. Add your vote here ( and see the new results.

I asked the question, "The reason my school blocks web 2.0 tools is due to the following:" I didn't want to use the term 'web 2.0 tools', but I figured that would be a good umbrella term.

As of this writing, here are the results:
48% said the sites were blocked out of fear of lawsuits regarding CIPA
25% said that the Curriculum Department wasn't convinced of their value
26% said that it's because the default filter settings blocked them, and they don't override anything

Did you see that, Mr Jupp? "What lawsuits?", indeed!

I think the part that disturbs me the most is the last figure. I think that many of those votes could have gone into the first category, don't you? It's unbelievable that someone would simply say, "We don't change our filter" just out of laziness, although I was told one time that they didn't change the settings because, "We don't want to start going down that road." ARGH! If you can pass the blame onto someone else, "It's the IU's fault. They set up the filter." then you can wash your hands of any responsibility. (IU= "Intermediate Unit" Regional Service Center?) But, doesn't it sound like an underlying fear of lawsuits there? If they leave the filter alone, someone else gets the blame. If they change it, now THEY are on the hook.

I've said that I'm not a fan of this gentleman, but I do like his quote that says something like, "We have filtering policies that treat our staff and our students like either morons or felons." I was giving a workshop at an IU recently and blogs were blocked to all staff, though nobody could tell me why. Back in 2007 I wrote about an IU who wanted to hire Will Richardson to come talk to their teachers, but they couldn't find his contact information. Why? His blog was blocked - even for the adults in the IU. Seriously! Many of the schools in my area use a filter that allows different filters by permissions determined at login. Login as a teacher and get more rights than a student. Yet, some of the tech folks don't use it. They don't even tell their teachers that they have that ability. "I don't want to get started with that." You may have heard me scream that day. ;-)

I still believe that if anything is going to bring down the Brick and Mortar schools it's going to be this kind of issue. Curriculum is based soley with the focus on the state tests and shaped by the fear of a lawsuit. That's a limitation that a home schooled student doesn't have They CAN use social bookmarking sites to collect and organize the sites they find. (Did I tell you that one school blocks Diigo and Delicious because they said that the bookmarked sites get around their filter? Huh?) They CAN write a blog and READ one, too. Imagine that! They CAN set up an account on a site and build something meaningful there. They can USE the web and all its tools as a personal learning environment. How, do you think, our students see the school-provided web?

Oh well. Jump on over there to take the poll yourself. It closes on Wednesday.


rjbaxter said...

Wow, Will Richardson commented on the absurdity of this on his blog ~!

Kurt Paccio said...

I wonder where the fear comes from? Can anyone point out one instance of an individual being sued over filtering decisions?