I AM on a mission to spread the word that Draconian filtering at schools is a practice that produces negative outcomes. The time to speak out about such constraints is now! As I write this, on a warm sunny day in September 2008, I am conscious of the fact that this column will be published in January 2009. Thus I am challenging readers to make a New Year's resolution to work for gaining more internet access for students and faculty members in K-12 schools.
This has long been a mantra with me, and I believe that, as time goes by, the stated reasons for such filtering become harder to justify. Let me hasten to say that I am not campaigning for frivolous surfing at the expense of bandwidth that should be used for educational purposes. I am talking about the kind of filtering, often banning any use of words deemed objectionable, that keeps kids and teachers out of so many great educational resources.
My first article in this series about filtering appeared in the September issue of MMIS, and a second followed in November. By way of recap, to this point I have offered a general description of the situation, followed by what I think is the most compelling argument to use with administrators when requesting more access: that other districts are moving far ahead and doing well with access that allows entree into Web 2.0 resources.
In this column I will offer a second strong reason to take another look at very tight filters: that allowing additional access helps us make kids more, rather than less, safe. I am painfully aware that many educators wish they could …