Over Filtered Networks

It’s early morning, in a hotel in Houston, and on my way back home for a week in the office. Glorious.

Yesterday, I posted an off-the-top-of-my-head list of barriers that still prevent many educators from integrating Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching and learning practices. The one that seemed to take traction was the over-filtering of school and district networks.

I like the analogy that Neil Winton shared, that we are facing the same problems that occurred with the rise of the printing press, that the elite power factions in society did not want the masses to have the power that information enables. It took me back to pre-gutenberg, when they chained books to the walls of the libraries. Network filters and other “policies” prevent us from making full use of the technology, crippling the opportunities and resulting in a HUGE waste of money.

Travis, makes the point that the digital domain is here to stay, and its where our children go to communicate. Social networks are their future, and to ignore this is down right arrogant. What do schools look like to their students, when they block learners from the information they need, rather than provide it?

How do you loosen the networks? I think that you have to get together as a team of teachers and administrators, and write a plan for exactly how you want to implement it. You want to have your teachers write a weekly blog about their classroom activities. You want students to start turning in their assignment in blogs so that not only do teachers assess them, but their fellow classmates do as well. You want to set up a network where students in your classes communicate with students in other parts of the world to exchange culture information and impressions.

Then you meet with the technology department. Make sure that it is the entire department, not just the network/filter person, including the director of that department. Go in their understanding and express politely in every way that you appreciate the enormous opportunities that have been provided for you and your students by new technologies and that you appreciate their work in making these technologies reliable. Then describe as passionately as you can these things that you want to do and the sites you need unblocked and that you need to have better response on unblocking future sites. Actually, teachers should be able to unblock sites on their end.

I think that it is also important to UNDERSTAND that these people work for you. Their job is to support your instructional practices. Be polite, because they are your partners. But they work for you. If that doesn’t work, then you work your way up. It’s worth the fight. But always treat everyone you work with as your partner. Be as persistent as you are in the classroom. But don’t burn bridges.

2¢ worth!

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.