Just a quick note about the fact that James Farmer’s edublogs and learnerblogs sites are now being blocked by districts. Stephen Downes too. Decisions continue to be taken out of teachers hands. Make sure to read the comments after James’ post. And D’Arcy Norman’s post on the topic. No sense in once again getting into all the reasons why this is just wrongheaded, but it may be time to go on the offensive in more imaginative ways…
Douglas Johnson says
Over-blocking has long been a concern of mine. Perhaps the blocking of blogs will raise enough dander in educators to finally wrest control over blocking settings out of the hands of paranoid techies.
ALA has long been in the forefront of fighting censorship (and to a degree on the web in public libraries). I DO they need to wake up and acknowledge what is going on with school web filters. (See http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2005/9/7/does-aasl-need-to-lead-a-movement-for-consideration-policies.html ) So far my e-mails to the Office of Intellectual Freedom have gone unanswered.
Maybe ASCD or ISTE would help encourage better web filtering policies?
All the best,
Will Richardson says
I think we make the case by extending it’s reach. I have some ideas…
I don’t know what you have in mind, Will. They could:
– make a mirror copy of the blocked blogs at the Digital Divide Network. See http://www.andycarvin.org and http://www.digitaldivide.net/blog/acarvin . All Andy Carvin had to do was to mention the RSS feed for his main blog in the settings for the copy at Digital Divide Network
– create an aggregating page at http://www.bloglines.com – we already have the feeds for James Farmer’s and Stephen Downes’ blogs in the http://www.bloglines.com/public/adisi page (in the “educazione” folder). Maybe someone could see if that page is accessible from schools? If it is, then it might be worth doing one just for educational blogs.
– same at http://www.feedburner.com
dave cormier says
is there any record of who these people are who are blocking the sites. I know that on the brainstorm last night Graham Wegner was saying that one of the big causes was a security system called BESS. He added that the system could easily be configured to allow those sites back in, which he’d done. Much of the blocking had been accidental anyway. It would be cool if we could set up some kind of site that would co-ordinate this information. We’d be more than willing to host it, just a question of someone with the expertise to work on it…
if anyone wants to do this email me at edtech :at: edtechtalk :doht: com
John Rappold says
James Farmer’s blog entry that was referenced had a quote from a teacher that mentioned the “A Site” was blocking the blog. I believe an A-Site is only here in Ohio. A-Sites are now known as Information Technology Centers (ITC). There are 23 of these centers in the state and I’m the webmaster for the largest of these sites. We operate under the Ohio Department of Education and The Ohio Educational Computer NETwork. Note that the information and opinions that follow are mine, I do not control any of the filtering that we do.
First, I’m sure everyone replying here is aware that CIPA must be followed. Indeed, to receive E-Rate funding districts must follow CIPA and have filtering in place. I’m liberal, but after working at our ITC for a number of years now, I can see the value of filtering. If an elementary student does an innocent search and receives innapropriate results, you can bet that if the parents know, there is going to be trouble in most cases. Like it or not filtering is the law.
Our ITC uses N2H2 (mostly known as BESS). In our case school districts have the choice of running their filtering completely though us, or they can install an N2H2 filter box at their own district level and control filtering themselves.
In ALL cases if a teacher hits a site that is blocked, all that is required is an email and we’ll get it unblocked, or if the district runs their own N2H2 box, they can contact their tech coordinator. In the quote on James Edwards site, that is all that teacher needs to do.
Believe me, we know that a lot of stuff that is blocked doesn’t need to be, but outside of N2H2 employing enough people to view every web page on the net, generalizations need to be made. At least users can get things unblocked if needed.
Its a very imperfect system that errs on the conservative side, but until better technology comes along (and Ohio adopts it) it’s the best we can do under the CIPA law.
I just wanted folks to see the issue from our side.