Friday, September 4, 2009

Only 5 Minutes to Influence - What Do You Say?

Earlier today I posted on Twitter, the question "If you had only 5 minutes to convince a school administrator to ease Internet filtering, what would you say?" I got a bunch of good replies and as someone on Twitter requested, I've included those replies a little later in this post. But first, I'll explain my motivation for the question. Most teachers are back in school now or will be in school next week. Once school starts everyone involved in schools becomes busy and we have less time to discuss ideas and even less time to discuss ideas that involve systemic change. Therefore, if you're working in a school environment that doesn't offer a least restrictive Internet environment and you want to get that changed, chances are you'll have to make your case succinct and influential at the same time.

Last year when my school district was considering enacting a filtering policy that would ban all websites containing a social networking component, I did not have much time to make the case against the policy. To get my district's administrators to reconsider, I simply pointed out that this blog and many like it would be inaccessible to teachers because they include the Google Friend Connect widget. In my case I had some leverage because of the 2008 Edublog Award and, at that time, 6000+ subscribers. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to talk with my district's superintendent and my district's technology administrator who were both quite willing to listen although those conversations were only a few minutes in length.

If you're in a position where you're trying to change your district's filtering policy, but you only have a few minutes to influence people, consider some of the advice offered by these great folks on Twitter. You should also read Jeff Utecht's latest post which offers great evidence against using the "walled garden" approach to filtering.