Frau's Blog

Integrating Technology

Posted on: January 15, 2009

I have gotten so frustrated with my school’s internet filter!!!

For my Masters course, I have started my very own blog to use as a classroom resource.  I have been so excited to become more familiar with blogging and how to use it to help my students find new information or possibly even see what they might have missed if they were absent a day at school. So today during my prep period I attempted to log in to my very own blog and much to my dismay IT IS BLOCKED. So my students will not be permitted to look at my blog from any school computer.

Now, I can email our school technology guy and I am sure he can lift the block on my blog, but it really got me thinking about how much is actually blocked from our students on the internet.

I am fully aware of the inappropriate websites and videos that can be found on the internet and how a filter is essential to keep students away from certain things.  However, I have a hard time with some of the websites that are actually blocked. YouTube is blocked. Google Video and Image searches are blocked. And even select blogs are blocked as it turns out! Everytime I want to show a video (a Volkswagon commercial to show German culture in United States society) or play an mp3 (Erlkonig by Schubert) as a learning tool I first have to find a website I am allowed to go to actually use it and sometimes I can never find a website that is not blocked. A colleague of mine, a Spanish teacher, has had the same problem doing a class project. The students were supposed to plan a day in Spain, including admission to sites, travel expenses and food. Come to find out that the Spanish train schedule website is blocked.

Clearly it is important to protect our students from certain sites, but Spanish trains? German engineering in the house? Schubert? Aside from the obvious, how much of the internet really needs to be blocked by schools to keep our kids from looking at inappropriate information?

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9 Responses to "Integrating Technology"

The situation with your school’s internet filter seems to be quite similar to mine. Fortunately, I can log on to my blogging site, however, many sites are blocked due to gaming, social networking, etc. For instance, many lesson planning sites are blocked in our school because they may have links to online games. Sometimes, I can not even click on news sites because of the content of the news. Filters are definitely a pain.

Very happy to know that it isn’t just me! I have emailed the tech guy and hopefully my blog will be working on the school computers soon.

I realize there is a lot of junk on the internet that students should not be looking at, epecially at school. I think there must be a person that just moniters all the websites used on school computers and blocks the sites that people go to too often. In my experience, I was looking at Pottery Barn Kids (before and after school, of course!) when I was pregnant with my daughter and before too long, Pottery Barn was blocked! I know there is nothing inappropriate at Pottery Barn! But the fact that I had visited the website 3 times red flagged it somehow.

Hi there. Yes, we have a great deal of sites blocked at our school as well. It can be extremely frustrating. But, I must say that our network administrator is pretty understanding and flexible with removing the block if you e-mail the URL to him and tell him that it is necessary for instruction. The problem with this software that they use for blocking is that it is triggered by specific words, configurations, and extra lengthy URLS (which these days, many are) within the address which cause it to become blocked without assessing the content of the actual website. It is automated and flawed in that aspect. I would mention your concern to the network administrator(s).

Initially, my interest in technology and the fact that I used it quite a bit, landed me the position of ITRT. It took lots of training and professional development for me to learn how to be effective in my position and carry out what the state intended for the position. It is never easy and no two days are alike. The hardest transition for me regarding the position was learning how to educate adults and my own peers. Educating adults is much different from teaching those little kiddos. I do miss it. I miss having my own classroom and interacting with elementary students on that level.

I understand perfectly what you are saying Stephanie. This can be very frustrating when you have an assignment planned and you run in to obstacles like this. I had difficulty creating my own blog for this class. The site was blocked at school, so I could only work on it at home.

It is impossible to protect our students from all the bad things on the internet. Our students use Google quite a bit to search for graphics for their projects. Even though Google is a site that is allowed in our district, I have had students type in something perfectly innocent in the search window and get a really inappropriate picture. Have you thought about what you would do if this happens with your students?

One piece of advice that I have is to talk about this with your class. Let them know that sometimes this does happen and it doesn’t mean that they did anything wrong. Explain to them the appropriate way to handle it. They should not make an issue of it and show it to all their classmates. They need to either click out of it, or quietly raise their hand and let the teacher know what happened. This will hopefully help them to handle any inappropriate “surprises” they may encounter in an appropriate way.

Blogs are great if you can open them from any computer. It sounds like you are having quite some problems with internet sites in your school district. I feel the same way as you with too much being blocked, but then I realiezed that there are just way to many sites that students can go to and it is much easier and more realistic if a whole site is blocked instead of just a bad part. This gets to be very annoying as you must know, but I think that the districts do this to protect everyone.

Internet filtering is a federal law in public schools and itoo have the same problem. I get very frustrated when trying to show pictoral examples of concepts and i cannot. A good place for posting school blogs is Moodle. Moodle allows you to imbed clips and the like into your blogs so the kids dont have to post inaccesible links that are blocked via a filter. You may want to try that as Moodle is not blocked by my filter. There may be a subscription required so i advise checking with school tech support to find out.

Did you know that more than 60% of all videos shown online are sanctioned by YouTube? That is crazy. I also understand that students will take advantage of some sites and opportunities if certain filters are lifted. However, how are we to teach our students how to be respectful and honorable if we can’t allow them access to such a wonderful tool of the internet. If we teach them how to make good decisions and what not, there will be less problems. It is a better option than simply limiting their opportunities and having to work outside of the boundaries that are created and seem unnecessary.

You all have been so helpful and encouraging! Thanks for your comments.

Norm – Thanks for the advice on Moodle. I will see what the filter does with it when I return to work on Tuesday!

kdiggity7 – 60% is insane! I have noticed that though, even when searching on Google Video, the majority of the videos have the YouTube logo at the bottom. With YouTube sanctioning so many of the videos it is unfortunate that it is blocked by so many school filters. Especially when there are the “Safe Search” options like on Google.

Phil – There is a thin line with the filtering, I agree. It probably is much easier to just block everything than to pick bits and pieces to block. It does not, however, change the frustration when trying to use websites or videos as learning tools!

To All – I think that if you have a teacher log in, there shouldn’t be a problem with filters. Pornography, gambling and gaming sites can still be blocked, but YouTube or blogging sites should be available for teachers. Even if students cannot access a particular video from a school computer, at least as teachers we could show the video to the class on our computers. Clearly this would have to be decided by administration in individual districts, but what do you all think about this possibly solution, even if all we can ever do is talk about it?

I have recently been frustrated with our blocked websites as well. I developed a lesson plan to go with our author’s study where my students gathered biographical information to be added to the author’s Wikipedia page. We gathered the info, wrote the biography, but my school’s IP address was blocked from adding to a Wikipedia page. My students were so disappointed.

However, I also think that we must have these blocks. The web is too dangerous for students who are already so smart, tech savvy and a little bit sneaky. We will just have to work to find a happy medium.

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  • None
  • Stephanie: Thanks Cesar! It is wonderful to have such support through our cohort. I appreciate your comments and kind words.
  • Cesar Rubio: Hi Stephanie, You are making great strides in completing your GAME Plan. I'm so jealous! I haven't gotten mine off the ground because I don't know
  • Toni Malvestuto: I hope you have a better week this week. I know how stressful it can be when you don't have the resources you need at hand. I have also learned not

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