Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Block, or Not to Block...

It's been a while, but I'm back to blogging again! Many things have changed since my last post. Most notably - my job. When opportunity knocked on my door I answered, and it has worked out better than I could have imagined. I am now working as a technology integrator for our high school and a technology teacher for middle school computer classes. I love what I am doing, and I am working in my home town. I couldn't be happier!

In addition to the craziness that comes with learning two new jobs at once, there has been another reason that I have not added any posts to this blog - it was blocked in my new district! Most of my colleagues and students did not have access to what I was writing and sharing. I say "was" because I think we may have turned a corner yesterday. I am VERY excited at the prospect of using social media and Web 2.0 tools in our high school.

This has been a hot topic for debate. In fact, we had them unblocked for a while before blocking them once again this past summer. Everyone is confused about what to do - from the Superintendent, principals and the technology staff, on down to the teachers and students in the classrooms. While there are many reasons to block or "protect" our students from spending time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs in schools, I believe wholeheartedly that there are many more reasons not to.

I could write about these reasons myself, but there are great videos, articles and papers out there that do a better job in conveying this message than I would. Here are some examples:

Mr. Administrator, Tear Down This Firewall!
Great discussion highlighting important points

85+ Resources: Educator Guide for Integrating Social Media
This blog post has some great information and links on the topic

EdBuzz Blog Post - "Should Schools Block Social Networking Sites?"

"Why Banning Social Media is Not the Answer" - this video addresses the issue of bullying



In order to follow through, it is necessary to combine the unblocking of social media sites with lessons on safety and good citizenship. Here are some resources and ideas that I hope to integrate into our curriculum:

CyberSmart.org
CyberSmart Curriculum including lesson plans for all grade levels

My Footprint
In a digital world, the question is not whether you will leave a mark.
The question is, "What kind of mark are you leaving?"

NetSmartz Workshop

CAT2-Come Alive with Technology: High School Internet Safety Resources

If you have any thoughts or additional resources, please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you!

1 comment:

H said...

Jennifer,
I teach gr. 7/8 and my students have been regularly using SM sites for the last 3 years - Gapps, wikis, blogs, backchanneling and skype to name a few. Three years ago, our board blocked some sites, then they pulled the plug. Everything is open. Funny, just yesterday I was thinking how frustrating it would be to lose this. My kids know they are being given an opportunity to learn in a much more fun environment using these tools, so they follow my clearly laid out guidelines.
Last week, I caught one of my students on Facebook. She didn't give me any attitude or complain when I told her to shut down her computer. She knew she'd made a bad choice. That's the first time in 3 years I've run into that problem.
Managing students on the internet is no different than managing students in the classroom - we must be present and make our expectations clear.
I hope your board soon comes to realize that a "no filter" policy is the best policy for your students learning.