Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fred Flintstone and the DOE

Contrary to what seems to be a popular belief those two machines in the back of most DOE classrooms are learning tools and not just portholes to the evils of the modern world. The city of New York quickly jumped behind the technological curve on Friday by blocking I have personally used this website to bring my students to Egypt, Iraq, and share issues around current events like President Bush’s Speech on 9/11.

I am far from the only person using YouTube to further the education horizon of our students. The Beacon School has held poetry readings online using YouTube , Stuyvesant High School has exhibited robotic fairs online using YouTube and of course the Freshmen writing exhibition at the Queens High School through the Montessori Small Learning Community was just recently posted. (If you are unable to view the above links that’s because the city does not see the educational value)

Ironically the first day YouTube was blocked by the DOE was also the same day that I electronically received “EdUtopia’s spiral notebook blog” where this month’s topic is the value of to the classroom teacher.

Falling off the technology wave now will be something we as educators will not recover from anytime soon. We are setting up a divide between the relevance of the classroom with the outside world. School should be a place where students can learn to safely navigate the world, both real and virtual.

The Filter is bad for education.

If some teachers feel uncomfortable allowing the outside world into their classroom I am not saying they should be thrust into reality with some help, however limiting the valuable resources to Web 2.0 publishing outlets has too many ripple effects.

The city’s internet protection policy:

To protect the public school students from unwarranted Internet websites with content deemed inappropriate, content filtering policies are used at the school level as well as system-wide to prevent against unwarranted Internet websites. To further protect the DOE network’s functionality from unwarranted malicious Internet attacks intrusion detection and monitoring systems are in place for threat mitigation. The latest network security technologies are deployed utilizing secure protocols to further strengthen and eliminate threats against the organization’s network assets.

Who gets to deem websites inappropriate? Once deemed inappropriate how can this be reversed?

The problem is not, blocking it will only force myself as well as others to use or I just feel that teaching my students a way around an internet filter is an extreme waste of a history teacher’s time. I supposed we had problems accepting the use of the ballpoint pen when it was first introduced in 1935.


Anonymous said...

NYCBOE has also blocked the New York Times website from the school computers.

Superfly said...

Thank you for writing about this! I have been whining about the censors on the school computers for ages and they are getting seriously out of hand. But, can we not, as in individual school, choose which sites we want unblocked?

goddess said...

THEY BLOCKED YOUTUBE!!!!! How can we teach the next generation to be dependent on the internet if we don't let them have the internet? :p

I liked your comment about waisting time to teach your students a way around the block. I laughed even louder that they blocked the New York Times. What now we have to shelter real life from our students?

D. Guglielmini said...

the "Deleting online predators act" (HR 5319) might have something to do with it. YouTube and NYtimes might not be the only thing they are going to block.

W Brown said...

The NYTimes has not been blocked...although I would not be shocked if it had.

Anonymous said...

If they block anything perhaps they should try FOX NEWS first. If anything is brainwashing our youth it is Rupert Murdoch's conglomerate of websites and media outlets. Just recently FOX NEWS has "mistakenly" titled Senator Mark Foley (yes, the self- proclaimed pedaphiliac Republican the party so desperately tried to cover up before Election Day) as a "Democrat". In fact, when one of my friends called the station to give them a taste of her mind, they simply apologized for their honest journalistic faux pas and stated they would revise the error. 2 hours later - the "honest mistake" was still honestly there!

Yet, the DOE blocks out the keyword: Patriot Act. Try teaching a modern day class about living in a post 9/11 world without coming across such policies in classroom instruction. Not easy.

We want students to practice discovery learning but how can we teachers facilitate such research if students have nothing to discover? I equate it to giving students a treasure map and the exact coordinates of their prize, but equipping them with a mesh net to dig out the sand. It just doesn't work. Here we have fully capable computers with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I just do not get it. is used by most, if not all, of our students at home, etc. Why do we somehow think that school can keep students away from this technology? In fact, we should embrace it and "model" how these tools should and can be used! How better to teach the youth right from wrong?

History teaches us that censorship never works and only retards education. But I'm afraid for the moment, the DOE's fears of litigation have superceded student success.