Showing posts with label least restrictive environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label least restrictive environment. Show all posts

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Isn't This What Orwell Predicted?

Update: Thanks to Crystal Priest I now have some clarification on this issue. Apparently this filtering setting wasn't entirely intentional on the part of the D.O.E. or anyone else at the state level. The filtering problem arose with way the new image was constructed. You can read the details here. If you read the documentation you'll find this phrase which still reflects the issue I bring up in the post below: "the default behavior is to log all web page requests."

My original post follows:
In the state of Maine, all high school and middle school teachers are issued a MacBook by the state department of education. This morning I was using mine (I alternate between it and another computer in my house) to check Twitter. Someone posted a link to an interesting ebook creation service called ePub Bud. I clicked the link, visited the ePub Bud homepage thought, "I could use this," and clicked the "create" link. Instead of being taken to the creation page on ePub Bud, I got this:

I had seen that message before on other teachers' computers (it was actually a problem at a recent state conference), but it was the first time I had personally experienced it. Now I do have administrative rights to override this restriction, but most teachers in the state do not. What this tells me is the state doesn't trust its teachers to make good choices for themselves. Or am I just being paranoid? What do you think about the state's parental controls on the computers they want teachers to use?

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.