Network? or Netblock?

5:48 AM

I’m trying to lighten up a bit here at the end of the school year, but my mind keeps getting drawn into these issues. I just looked at my vanity search that I have installed in my aggregator and found that the name of my podcast had been used by Chris Harris, a “Director of a School Library System in Western NY”. He laments that he can’t listen to my “excellent educational podcast” at school, because all media downloads at are blocked. He continues to explain that resources at SourceForge are blocked because they are tagged as games, Google is tagged as a “loophole”.

Yesterday, Will Richardson posted another entry about the alleged school newspaper closing in Georgia, referencing Steve Dembo’s podcast where he predicted that…

…in a couple of years just about every school will have at least one student blogging away on his own time and space about what was going on at the school.

I jumped in with a comment from my reading (years ago) of The Cluetrain Manifesto, the point being that people/customers are going to network, and as a result are going to know more about what’s going on in your school than you do. My point was that information will find a way. Does it do us more good to try to control/block the network, or facilitate it?

Two other comments were posted, both missing my point completely, issuing in on blocks and filters on the school networks. Well it wasn’t Bill and Bud who missed the point. It was me. I’m out here, way outside the box. Inside, it comes down to whether you can access that web page in the classroom that you selected at home last night, play that animation or video, access that open source wiki engine.

Bill pointed out that according to a recent survey at his school, less than 20% of students regularly use the technology provided in schools, where more than 80% have access at home, and that in most cases, the performance capabilities at home exceed those of the school computers and networks.

For the sake of protecting our “behinds”, are we shoving learning out the doors of our schools?

I know that this is a serious and complex issue that concerns teachers, but also extends far beyond the classroom. It has to do with staffing resources, community sentimentalities, government regulation, and the presence of truly dangerous content on the net. But we must solve this problem and be willing to invest in solving this problem.

Because when the students see their network as a wall between them and information, then that school is no longer being a school.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.