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My name is Becky Day, and I am currently working on my Master's degree
through Full Sail University. One requirement for graduation is the
completion of an Action Research Project. My topic is about Internet
filtering and how that impacts the way we teach media literacy.  I am also looking at whether Internet filtering is detrimental to student learning and whether Acceptable Use Policies would be a better alternative.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog posting for one of my classes about the amount of control our government is placing on the content that our
students see online. If you want to read the posting, the link is here:

http://rd3683.blogspot.com/2009/09/media-literacy-part-2.html

I want to expand on the ideas that I wrote about in that posting, specifically the following ideas:
1. how much control is too much?
2. how can we, as teachers, get around the current policies?
3. how can student learning and understanding improve if some of these policies are lifted?

I'm also curious to know the policies in your systems. What's blocked?
What's not blocked? Any specific incidences at your school that you are
willing to talk about?

The big questions that I am exploring are:
1. Do internet filters work, based on personal experiences inside and outside the classroom?
2. What opinions do real teachers have about Internet filters?

Any information/tips/advice that you can share at this time will help out a lot.

Thank you, in advance,

Becky Day

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Becky,

I love your research topic for your Master's degree.  I am a high school librarian and will be writing a rationale for my school to lower the filtering levels for students and leave adults in the building "unblocked".

 

I am starting to gather some sources and would also like you to share out what sources you've come up with so far in your research.

A good one I read recently: 

Straight from the DOE: Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites

http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/04/straight-from-the-doe-facts-about...

 

I am working toward "right to read"; the right for teachers and adults in our building to have unfettered access to all sites.

We need to be completely fluent with social media if want to guide students into 21st Century digital literacies.

Our school's heavy handed filtering software, Websense, is not configured in a sophisticated way which would allow more access to information.

 

If whole categories of information are blocked (we currently block weapons and violence) how can the students possibly use the web for historical research.  They get blocked at every turn.  I am totally dismayed that our IT department sets the filters without librarian input.  We are working to improve that.  The IT department is also looking into acquiring a better software program.  It doesn't seem right that because of the Columbine incident 12 years ago, and the 9/11 terror attacks that our students are suddenly blocked from a whole array of information.  I think that we as librarians need to have full in the filtering process.

We have a full process to deal with banned books.  Why not have a full vetting process to deal with banned websites?

Judy Gressel

New Trier HIgh School librarian

 


In short:

 

Do internet filters work? NO! I'm continuously having to calm students down as they stumble on to something inappropriate during an otherwise innocent internet search. In addition, students are able to use proxies and the like to get to just about anything they want online. And I have middle schoolers, I know the high schoolers are even better at it, and considering the internet connectivity of most cell phones today, filtering is really just a waste of time. I've seen filters that block Facebook yet leave Twitter, filters that restrict access to useful resources like Youtube and "CoolMathGames," and most of the time it is more frustrating for me, because I have more to lose by trying to circumvent the filter than my students do (though I can't say I've never said "I'm going to close my eyes, and when they open I want a computer that's on [insert useful site here]").

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