I have been wrestling with the issue of blocked websites in my district lately, partly because of my own frustrations with blocked content and partly because teachers are funneling their requests to have sites unblocked through me, which is proper procedure since I am the Technology Coach as well as the librarian at my school.
So far this year I have tried to use:
- the online books at We Give Books to take advantage of their free ebook version of Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, which is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book for 2012
- the Charles R. Smith, Jr. author interview video at the Reading Rockets website
- the Sarah Pennypacker author interview video at the Scholastic AuthorTube website
- the Mo Willems blog, hosted by Blogspot
- the Barnes and Noble Online Storytime free eBooks
On behalf of my teachers I have also requested that Pinterest be unblocked for teachers, but that request was denied.
Filtering is a fact of life in a school environment, and I certainly am not advocating unrestricted access to any and all websites by students, or even teachers. But when a site has demonstrable educational value, shouldn’t it be available to educators for instructional use? Particularly if the resources are being provided for free by reputable companies and/or individuals?
I don’t enjoy controversy, and I’m not comfortable challenging authority, but I do feel compelled to open a dialogue with the administrators in my district about the internet restrictions that our teachers encounter on a daily basis. In order to speak with any authority on the subject, I need to do more research on the need for the filters and the consequences for failing to provide them.
Edited 9/22 at 4:51 pm: Literally minutes after I posted this, I visited one of my favorite education/technology blogs, Thoughts by Jen, and read this post on the responsibility each of us has for speaking up when it comes to using technology to foster student learning.