Posts Tagged ‘filter’

I know I haven’t written in a while. It looks like my last post is from January and I was a little upset with the WV Department of Education for blocking a whole bunch of stuff. Thankfully, they saw the light and unblocked a few things once they realized the internet’s not all big and bad. But, instead of finding bloggable topics, I ignored you and spent my time on the Twitter. I shared with people. I posted links. I ENGAGED IN CONVERSATION WITH LIKE-MINDED (and sometimes not so like-minded) EDUCATORS!

I’ve got to admit, Blog….it was good. So. Damn. Good. Me and Twitter…well, what we had was special. Maybe it was a little too special. I was tweeting a lot. I’d share links just so I’d see them in my sent feed and remember to go back later and read them. I made plans with people…found out about events…Hell, how do you think I found out that Dick Clark had passed away? The news? Facebook? Nope…it was Twitter who broke it to me. Twitter was good for that…always just a few steps ahead of everyone else.

But those days are sadly gone. My district has decided it knows more than our state department of education and has blocked it, along with Hootsuite and TweetDeck and anything that might even give a hint as to find a way to post to Twitter. (They blocked a lot of things…screwed over a lot of teachers who can no longer access sites they regularly used in class for various activities…all in the name of progress?) I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything more from a county who thinks a projector and doc cam are the stars of the Using Technology show. (Who am I to tell them anything different?)

So, here I am…running back to you, Blog. Slightly broken, disconnected, and sorry. Maybe you can help me. Maybe you can provide me with a place to share or vent. Hopefully you’ll take me back and not hold a grudge. I am TRULY sorry for leaving you out in the cold.

Sincerly,

Me

PS: I’d rather be Tweeting.

Update: The WVDE eventually unblocked Twitter. However, we still can’t access playlist.com

 

I’m pretty sure the West Virginia Department of Education would block me for inappropriate content. I like to say bad words…especially the really bad ones. I also read books with sex, nudity, murder, rape, profanity, etc. I even occasionally watch rated R movies.

Of course, I don’t do any of this on school time or around students.

My music appreciation class has used playlist.com several times this semester. I’ve created playlists to share with them and they’ve created them to share with me. Last week, I booked time in our school library for our final project for the semester. On day one of the project, several students chose to use playlist.com as a resource. On day two of the project, playlist was blocked. Thankfully, the WVDE provides an email address and you can request a review if you feel a site was mistakenly blocked. I sent in my request and this is the response I received.

Thank you for your request. 

We have recently received a request to have this site blocked due to profanity in the music and user submitted comments.

We filter websites in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which states that we must filter for pornography, profanity, and content that is harmful to minors.   This site was found to be in violation of that criteria.

We hope you understand that while sites such as this offers many great educational resources, there is also unacceptable content as well.  At this time we will not be able to remove the blocking of this site in our filtering system.

*sigh*

I emailed back.

Who made the request?

If teachers are using the website in class and complaining about their students being exposed to profanity then I would question how well those students are being supervised.

I’ve used this site many times this semester to create playlists for my music classes with no problems. One class was even using it for part of their final project this semester, which is how we found out today that it’s now blocked.

I would ask that you reconsider having this site blocked.

Three days later…
I cannot provide information on the person who requested the page to be blocked.  The fact is that we review all requests to confirm that they do violate our filtering policies and this site was confirmed to do so.  We cannot unblock this site at this time.

*grumble grumble grumble*

Folks, I’m totally cool with filtering pornography. I personally don’t want my 7 year old to accidentally come across www.sheeplovers.com or www.girlswholovetheirbrothers.net when he’s supposed to be using the computers at his school. (Heck, I even have filtering software on my home computer…shh!) However, I really think the folks in charge are just being ridiculous. Do they really think we can block EVERYTHING that might be questionable? The BLOCK IT IT’S BAD mentality is crap. It doesn’t do what they want it to do and actually hurts the educational process. Teachers can no longer access Twitter. TWITTER???? Because someone might curse? Because kids could be exposed to profanity? Have these people never walked down a high school hallway? Just in case they haven’t, let me be clear: Kids don’t need Twitter to be exposed to profanity.  But hey, on the off chance some Amish kid who’s never heard an F-bomb hops on line and decides to tweet, let’s BLOCK IT!

As I write this I’m resisting the urge to sing the praises of Twitter for collaboration and professional development. I really could go on forever about the topic. I will say I’ve used Twitter with my students to bring professionals into our class. Author Scott Westerfeld tweeted a message to my students when I told him we were reading his book and creating a playlist to go along with it. Singer/songwriter Corey Smith weighed in on how the internet has changed the way musicians market themselves…yes, he did that using Twitter.  Even school reform guru Diane Ravitch read a blog post I wrote about school reform and sent a message to one of my students. How did this happen? You guessed it! Twitter. That connection to those people made my kids feel a little special and made what they were doing in class feel a little more real.

(But, Twitter’s bad…right? We have to protect the kids, right?)

Folks, we can’t block our way to safe childhoods. The internet is just like everything else. Instead of blocking everything that might be harmful, we should be educating our students and teachers about the appropriate uses of Twitter and Facebook. Instead of telling teachers they can’t be trusted to connect with students online, how about we educate kids on how to recognize inappropriate behavior and what to do if an adult approaches them online or in person? Am I crazy for thinking that’s a good idea?