So here is the update from the heartland: blogs, wikis, Flickr…almost anything where kids can post content online is being blocked by schools. An elementary school teacher told me that the schools just don’t want the potential problems of students doing this. (Ironically, another teacher in the discussion then said that students have all sorts of hacks to get around this anyway.) And I have to say, that out of the 40 or so presentations I’ve given now on these technologies, yesterday’s was without question the most angst creating one yet in terms of teacher response. There was lots of disruption being voiced, from university professors concerned with intellectual property issues and the recklessness of the blogosphere, to middle school teachers wrestling with the facts that we need to teach students how to navigate these information rich waters but not having the time or the resources (or the support) to do so. It was an extremely interesting hour.
And then there’s this from Bionic Teacher:
The main point is computers and the internet are treated as strange dangerous animals that have to be carefully controlled or they will destroy students, schools and society.
How scary is that? And how good is this response?:
You get the idea. The choices the student makes are the problem not the tools that make it possible. You can do as many wrong things without a computer as you can with one but you can’t do as many good things. Stop treating problems relating to computers as different than other school related issues. Choices are choices. Educate and inform the child as to the right choices and hold them responsible if they make the wrong choices. Supervision and education are the keys not blocking. These are schools.
So from a tempature check standpoint, if feels like the kettle is really starting to boil. It’s becoming more and more obvious that a lot of schools are choosing the keep away approach to this, ignoring the fact that as soon as students leave the building, they’re accessing all of this stuff on their own anyway.
So, what’s our response?