My own reading of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) indicates that the law is primarily concerned with protecting minors – defined in the document as “any individual who has not attained the age of 17 years” – against “access through [school] computers to visual depictions that are obscene or child pornography.”
Computers used by adults are also required to be protected, but “An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the certifying authority under subparagraph A(i) may disable the technology protecting measure concerned, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.” This seems to leave it up to individual districts to decide whether or not they will restrict teacher use of the sites the filtering software is blocking. Certainly there is nothing unlawful about the sites I’ve been denied access to so far this year, and there is no content at any of them that is remotely obscene or pornographic!
It’s also important to note that in the newly-released CIPA rule revisions, the FCC has determined that social network sites do not fall into one of the categories that must be blocked. So if districts choose to block them, that is a local decision, not a CIPA mandate.
Providing access to YouTube is not a violation of CIPA rules
There is nothing that says websites have to be blocked for adults
Broad filters aren’t actually helpful; we need more nuanced filtering
She doesn’t know of any districts who have lost funding by allowing access to appropriate sites
If sites are found that are deemed appropriate they can be unblocked
Having the process in place for unblocking sites is definitely important
Teachers need to impose their professional judgement on the materials that are [made] available to their students
So, what’s the takeaway?
Knowledge is power. I need to stay informed about the laws and requirements for school internet use.
The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about.My voice can be stronger now because I can speak with confidence about what is and is not required by law.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If I want unrestricted access to valuable web resources I must be prepared to speak up, for myself and my students.
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.
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If you’ve read the “About” page of this blog, you know that I’m a person who thinks things through by talking them out, and that writing these posts is like having an internal conversation with myself to sort out my feelings on various subjects. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about how frustrated I am with the apparent lack of interest in technology integration at my school, and I must say that even I’m getting tired of my whining on the subject! “Oh, I wish more teachers at my school were interested in using technology in their classrooms.”
Well, a couple of days ago a third grader shared a poem during a Poetry Pass in the Library that smacked me right between the eyes:
To Catch a Fish
It takes more than a wish
to catch a fish
you take the hook
you add the bait
and then you wait
but not a bite
the fish don’t have an appetite
so tell them what
good bait you’ve got
and how your bait
can hit the spot
this works a whole lot
better than a wish
if you really want
to catch a fish
So, am I letting my “fish” know what great bait I have, and how it can hit the spot in the classroom? From now on, no more sitting around wishing — it’s time for positive thinking and constructive action! I do have good bait, and it’s up to me to make sure my teachers know it!
In an earlier blog post I mentioned a webinar that was offered back on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe entitledWhat it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology. When the participants were asked to share their thoughts on what makes an educator a change agent, one consistent piece of advice was to be passionate about what you believe in and be persistent in pursing it.
If it’s true that passion can drive change, and I want to effect change at my school, then I need to be asking myself these kinds of questions: What are my teachers passionate about? How can I help them share that passion with their students? And for that matter, what are my students passionate about? And how can I help them explore and share that passion with others?