From the “E-Mailed Stories that We Liked Dept.” (blogged with Andy Losik’s permission:)
Today in my elementary Infotech classes, I realized the horror of life without
online resources that are tabbed as being part of “social networking”.
Inadvertedly our school district’s filter profile had “Web Logs/Personal web
pages” added to it this morning, meaning anything that was blog-based or in
reality Web 2.0 was blocked.
I blog at mrlosik.blogspot.com out of sheer convenience. I post content for my
students in grades K-5 to access efficiently. The blog has become a favorite of
the students and parents alike. Students show their folks at home the online
activities and websites we use at school.
When the site was blocked this morning and kids were trying to access the
activity I had blogged, it hit me as to how effective this tool can be, even in
the very “rough” way I use it.
It got worse though. I sent the students to the backup assignment and I began
trying to access my Bloglines account. Blocked! Furl…blocked.
Del.icio.us….blocked….Weblog-ed….blocked! Those great kids in Room
A huge chunk of my professional life was now severed from me and my classroom. I was literally placed in a time machine and shot backwards to Web 1.0. What was I supposed to do? Gopher my way around the Web?
Within a couple of hours and after panic-riddled emails to the Intermediate
School District, the problem was resolved and called a mistake. It felt more
like being awaken from a nightmare.
Holy cow! Shutting down the “Web Logs/Personal web pages” as the 8E6 filtering
system calls it, cuts us off from the ability to share real, pertinent, and
meaningful information. I am not sure where legislation stands but this is
something I hope to never experience again!
And so it goes…
Neil Winton says
I’m at Web1.5(Beta!)… in that I’m still trying to persuade my authority to allow access to a lot of the sites that most edubloggers and Web2.0 advocates take for granted.
Even at this early stage in my adoption of the tools, it would be a really major blow to have all access blocked. What I think the anecdote you recount illustrates is the mentality of the ‘blockers’. The education has to take place on two fronts: on the one hand, we need to raise awareness and knowledge for the students, but we also need to work really hard on educating those who have the power to block these tools.
I wrote about some of the problems I’ve had on my blog and got some really good responses from some of the great Scottish edubloggers who read the post. I’d be really interested in hearing from any educators anywhere who have more to add to the conversation.
I remember reading on someone’s blog (maybe Will’s?) that even with a fence around your swimming pool, children still might climb over the fence and drown. So, you can either build a higher fence, or teach your kids to swim. A colleague of mine pointed out that in many schools there is a third solution: tear down the pool!
I’ve been teaching at the university and introducing k-12 teachers to wikis, blogs, etc. Teachers have been coming up with some great ideas for using these in their classrooms. They are also getting really excited! However, these same teachers return to school only to find that none of their ideas can be implemented. They are getting tired of all of the layers of administration that have to be “convinced” in order to gain access to the tools that they need for their projects. It becomes disheartening to see such excited and motivated teachers become so discouraged. Some are finding that they are now beginning to question whether it’s all worth the trouble. They haven’t given up, but I know that they are tempted. Today I was in a district that doesn’t allow ANY Web 2.0. It was all very depressing… What makes me SO frustrated is that we have teachers who WANT to do this and who are READY to do more with technology. The problem, however, is that school is getting in the way… Sorry for my venting… It’s one of those days…
Neil Winton says
Erica – I know what you’re saying. I think the problem lies in whether you believe that Web2.0 tools are valuable or not. I happen to believe that they are essential, the pupils certainly think they are (hence the reason they use them so much), but I wish I knew how to persuade the powers that be that they will not prevent their use by banning them from schools, all they’ll do is prevent educators from having a valuable role in shaping their use.
Emily Metz says
I loved this post. I thought the story was great and showed the difference between classrooms that use technology and those that don’t. I posted on it in my blog, http://emilymm2006.blogspot.com. Check it out!
Mary Catton says
Our little charter school invited Alan November to spend part of a day with us recently. We invited several of the central administration tech people to attend so they could hear and perhaps share the vision of what we believe our students can be doing. Two of them sent polite declines, and I didn’t hear from the others. They were probably in their towers fighting dragons and saving all of us and our students from the evils of Web 2.0.
Andy Losik says
Thanks Will for sharing my story. It wasn’t fun at the time, but I am happy it can contribute to the conversation of the Read/Write Web. Now that things are up and running again, we had a powerful sharing session with two groups of 3rd graders today. Three classrooms have been integrating their plant studies by animating growing cycles in Kid Pix. We have been saving them as .mov files and posting them at another freebie: http://chargerblue.googlepages.com . Today was the big launch of projects and students began to explore the work of their peers. The excitement was tremendous as each viewed the different projects on individual laptops. I have been teaching since 95 and have done countless project sharings where half of the kids listen and the other half nod off when I am not looking. The sharing we experienced today was electric; plus students were able view projects from two other classrooms and another school across the district. The neatest thing I heard though was, “Next time I am using this tool.” or “That color font was easier to read than the black I used.” Very cool stuff.
Remember that most of these tools are FREE! “Free” is a powerful word that strikes joy in the heart of almost any administrator…well those with hearts.