Showing posts with label content filtering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content filtering. Show all posts

Monday, October 9, 2017

Search Safely on Pixabay


Pixabay is a site that houses over one million free images and videos that have been uploaded by users around the world. All content found on the site is licensed under a Creative Commons CC0 license which means that you can use any of the content in any way you wish, even for commercial purposes. 

Each image and video uploaded to the site is manually approved to ensure it does not violate Pixabay's guidelines. Content that is adult-themed or depicts strong violence is not accepted, however sometimes images that might be offensive to some do not violate the guidelines and therefore are found on the site. 

Pixabay offers several ways to deal with images that are not appropriate in schools. They offer a safe search option, which allows a user to turn on safe search on a browser level. Pixabay also offers an option that allows teachers to share a URL with their students which will prevent them from turning the safe search option off. Another option is for the IT department to enforce SafeSearch on the entire network by updating the current DNS configuration. 

Applications for Education
It's important for students to have places where they can find content and use it legally. Pixabay offers districts a way to make this popular resource safe for students to use. 




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ProCon Content Filter for Firefox

ProCon Latte Content Filter is a Firefox add-on designed to prevent users of your computers from accessing sites containing objectionable content. It can filter any type of content you specify by keyword. Password protection means that only you can change the filter settings. This could be an add-on that parents might want to add to the browser on their home computers. Of course, educating students about what they should or shouldn't access is the best policy, but the ProCon Latte Content Filter is a nice back-up plan. The Tekzilla video below offers a little more information about this Firefox add-on.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fighting the Locked Net Monster

Today, during Mario Armstrong's presentation at ISTE 2010 he introduced four challenges facing teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. One of those challenges is the "Locked Net Monster." The "Locked Net Monster" refers to school administrators and IT administrators who lock down teachers' and students' access to the web and the wonderful tools it offers. In the last year I've written a couple of posts addressing the challenge of dealing with the "Locked Net Monster." You can read one of them here and the other below.

What follows is a repost of my Least Restrictive Environment for Educators post.

In my work with special education students over the last six years, I have consistently heard from special education teachers and administrators the refrain of "creating a least restrictive environment for students." The idea being that in a least restrictive environment students have the most opportunities to experience new things, explore their creativity, and grow personally and academically. I completely agree with these ideas.

The irony I see in school leadership with regards to technology in the classroom is that often, by imposing strict internet filters, school leaders don't create a least restrictive environment for their faculty. Some of the most restrictive environments that I've heard of include the blocking of wiki services, gmail, and Google image search (which recently added Creative Commons search). By restricting access to the internet, including such innocuous things as Yahoo mail, schools limit the ability of teachers to use their creativity in lesson planning.

I understand that schools are worried about lawsuits arising from student access to the internet. At the same time if school leaders are filtering the internet out of fear or misunderstanding of the law they are not helping their teachers prepare students for life after high school. (Please note that I did not say "prepare students for the 21st century." We're a decade into the 21st century we should stop saying "21st century skills" and just say "skills" or "skills for academic and professional success.") To address these fears and misunderstandings, Wes Fryer and others created Unmasking the Digital Truth. If you're a school administrator or a teacher who works in a district that doesn't create a least restrictive internet environment, please visit Unmasking the Digital Truth.

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.












Sunday, July 12, 2009

Least Restrictive Environment for Educators

I usually don't write much about the philosophy and politics of school leadership because it doesn't really fit with the purpose of this blog. But Dr. Scott McLeod put out a call for all edubloggers to post their thoughts about school leadership today. This post is my contribution to Leadership Day 2009.

In my work with special education students over the last six years, I have consistently heard from special education teachers and administrators the refrain of "creating a least restrictive environment for students." The idea being that in a least restrictive environment students have the most opportunities to experience new things, explore their creativity, and grow personally and academically. I completely agree with these ideas.

The irony I see in school leadership with regards to technology in the classroom is that often, by imposing strict internet filters, school leaders don't create a least restrictive environment for their faculty. Some of the most restrictive environments that I've heard of include the blocking of wiki services, gmail, and Google image search (which recently added Creative Commons search). By restricting access to the internet, including such innocuous things as Yahoo mail, schools limit the ability of teachers to use their creativity in lesson planning.

I understand that schools are worried about lawsuits arising from student access to the internet. At the same time if school leaders are filtering the internet out of fear or misunderstanding of the law they are not helping their teachers prepare students for life after high school. (Please note that I did not say "prepare students for the 21st century." We're a decade into the 21st century we should stop saying "21st century skills" and just say "skills" or "skills for academic and professional success.") To address these fears and misunderstandings, Wes Fryer and others created Unmasking the Digital Truth. If you're a school administrator or a teacher who works in a district that doesn't create a least restrictive internet environment, please visit Unmasking the Digital Truth.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unmasking Digital Truth

In an article published today for ISTE Connects, Wes Fryer talks about some of the common reasons given by administrators for blocking websites. At the end of the article Mr. Fryer shares a link to project he started called Unmasking the Digital Truth. Unmasking the Digital Truth is a wiki built to share information and dispel common misconceptions about CIPA, FERPA, and e-Discovery, and other reasons commonly used for justifying web censorship. The wiki is clear in all of its explanations.

Applications for Education
The more I talk with teachers around the world the more I hear horror stories of teachers not being able to access basic web tools like wikis and blogs. It seems that sometimes schools are blocking websites out of fear and sometimes out of misunderstandings. Whatever the reason for blocking is, teachers shouldn't sit idly by and be denied access to the tools they need to prepare their students to participate in the global community. To that end, a site like Unmasking the Digital Truth is a great resource for teachers who would like to gather information that they can use in discussions with their administrators about unblocking websites.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thank You - Social Networking Proven Valuable Again

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Facebook probably know that my school district recently proposed new Internet use policies that would have effectively decreased by 50% the number of websites that teachers and students can use. When I first read the proposed policies I put out some pleas for help on Twitter. Many of you responded with links to articles and studies that defend the value of open access to the Internet. Since that time I organized an ad-hoc committee of teachers and administrators in my school district to look at those examples. Although the committee was able to make suggestions, the final decision making power rested with administration. This afternoon I was notified that the district has reversed course and is going to allow access to social networking sites (including Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter), wikis, and blogs!

Thank you to everyone that sent me links, suggestions, and encouragement over the last four weeks. Without your help, I'm not sure my district administrators would have changed course. For those of you engaged in similar fights, keep at it. Here are a handful of the links that were sent to me when I needed help.

A Second Life for Educators
New Study Shows Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development
Understanding Content Filtering
Content Filtering in Schools: Best Practices for K-12
ALA Statement on Library Use of Filtering Software