Stop Brute Force Filtering: School Leaders Step Up
Teachers repeatedly complain to me that their students cannot do research at school because so many sites are blocked. In a recent interview, which is a must-read for all school staff and parents, Karen Cator of the U.S. Department of Education takes on what she calls "brute force technologies." According to Cator, many schools are over-complying with federal guidelines.
What you must know about content filtering
In the interview, "Cator parsed the rules of the Childrens Internet Protection Act, and provided guidance for teachers on how to proceed when it comes to interpreting the rules. To that end, here are six surprising rules that educators, administrators, parents and students might not know about website filtering in schools."
1. Accessing YouTube is not violating CIPA rules.
2. Websites don’t have to be blocked for teachers.
3. Broad filters are not helpful.
4. Schools will not lose E-rate funding by unblocking appropriate sites.
5. Kids need to be taught how to be responsible digital citizens.
6. Teachers should be trusted.
Content filtering is an important part of any school wide technology effort. I should know. In my former high school, every one of our 3,200 students had a laptop. We blocked inappropriate sites. On occasion, our staff blocked appropriate sites, but we had a simple remedy. If a teacher came across a site that she wanted unblocked, she simply emailed me the name of the site and the URL. I forwarded a request to our IT people and, within minutes the problem was solved. The key here is that the principal get involved and take some leadership. IT people are simply doing what they think is best. If they never hear from us, they have no idea that a problem exists. While it is true that some IT people practice the ABCs (Administration By Convenience), those individuals are rare. I have found most IT people to be particularly helpful, especially when the principal is willing to take the time to show interest and to get directly involved.