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Elementary is a different bird when it comes to filtering.  Many people who have filtering issues will concede that there needs to be filtering of materials at the elementary level.  As an elementary computer lab teacher, you can tell students not to “wander” the Internet and only go to assigned sites, but it’s the nature of the beast (both the kids nature and how you use the Internet) to keep clicking in the search for something new and interesting. Next thing you know, you’re where you don’t belong.  Filters will at least hopefully keep them out of some of the worst pornography sites, etc. but here are some home truths:

 

  1. They don’t catch everything
  2. When the kids are motivated, they will sometimes find ways around the firewall. I have yet to see an elementary student who knew about proxy servers (but I’m sure that is just down the road), but simple things like going further down the tree of the URL name so they get to something that’s not blocked is definitely in the skill level of your average fifth or sixth graders and some fourth graders who are especially precocious.
  3. These are automated systems, and can best be analogized as an axe, rather than a surgical knife. The particular service my district (and Larry’s) has more than a passing resemblance to a cudgel.

 

So at a recent district technology meeting I had an interesting discussion about the blocking software companies.  I’d like to find out more information about this to confirm what I’ve learned, so if you are a district technology administrator, or you know one, ask them this…

 

  • Since CIPA started, have the number of vendors offering blocking services declined?
  • What has happened to the pricing levels over time? 

 

If your answer is similar to what I’m starting to hear (and I will be looking into this more myself), words like the name of a popular children’s game involving real estate transactions are coming to mind.

 

Leave a comment with your findings and thoughts.

3 Responses to “Blocking, the good and the bad…”

  1. Hi, Alice,

    Ben Rimes at The Tech Savvy Educator coincidentally has just written a post about filters, too:

    http://www.techsavvyed.net/?p=373

    Larry

  2. Brian Crosby says:

    Alice – Nice post … I look forward to seeing others’ take on this. A similar topic came up today after my post about my students having access to Flickr. http://learningismessy.com/blog/?p=374

    I’ve found that my parents (well … I mean my students parents) understand that the use of these tools as part of learning usually outweighs “the risks” as long as reasonable care is used and students are taught what to do IF things go wrong. They like that their kids will have steps to take that they have practiced, and that you have had discussions with them about ethical use.

    Parents know that there are “Playboy” magazines out there their kids might see at the store or elsewhere… and cable channels at friends homes … and the internet everywhere … and they like that someone, besides them, have talked to their kids about that. I’ve gotten very good feedback from parents.

    That said, it is still an issue we all have to consider and deal with, and its going to get ugly sometimes.

    Brian

  3. We’ll never eliminate all risk, so I think it is counterproductive to try to do so. As Brian put it, I think “reasonable care” ought to be the goal. I believe it is important we have meaningful opportunities to discuss safe and appropriate internet use with our students. I think those conversations ought to start at the very beginning of primary school. Has anyone developed a “curriculum” for teaching safe internet use?

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