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Internet Filtering Topic of Twitter Chat

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With just 140 characters per exchange, it's hard for many to think of Twitter as a venue for vibrant discussion, particularly about a complicated subject. That didn't stop dozens of educators and others from taking part in a Twitter chat yesterday, this one a lively debate about Internet filtering. I was following earnestly, since I am working on a story now about this topic.

You can follow some of it here.

Participants asked whether Internet filtering is too restrictive, why it often means students and teachers can't access Web 2.0 tools—especially social networking sites—what kinds of useful, even vital, resources can't be accessed because of blocking devices on school computers, and whether schools are doing students a disservice by not, instead, teaching them how to navigate the vast archive of good and bad materials online.

One tweet, for example, made this point:

I agree no filtering would be wrong. But so is over-filtering. There must be a happy medium that allows supervised access

The chat is a really good example of how educators are talking the problem out. I'm finding some districts already have had a pretty extensive discussion with all the interested parties—from students and parents to teachers and administrators—to come up with reasonable solutions. Several have decided to ease back on Internet restrictions or to set up procedures for getting useful sites and resources unblocked.

Is this discussion happening in your school or district? Is filtering working for teachers and students, or hindering the learning process?

3 Comments

I'm all for as little filtering as possible. Teach safe practices, do spot monitoring, and let the students know you trust them - but also have consequences if they break that trust.

I agree with a previous article that if we're going to be banning sites, banning cellphones, banning anything a student *might* use for non-educational purposes, then we might as well ban pencils too. After all, a pencil could be used to poke someone's eye out, used to write profanity on a piece of paper that's then passed around the class, etc.

Before students are allowed access to a wide variety of web tools, teachers need to be highly knowledgeable of these tools to make students aware of the dangers lurking at every turn. Parents are also lagging behind, so we can't rely on them to do the guidance. Administrators, teachers and parents need to to their homework on safety strategies before they throw students into this powerful information resource that is unfortunately powerfully unsafe.

There is a certain irony to the internet filtering discussion taking place via twitter, easily accessible on personal cell phones.

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