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:
- They don’t catch everything
- 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.
- 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.