I recently presented “Teaching with Technology,” and “Let’s Communicate.” at at Teacher’s conference. It always comes down to the filter on the school, what is blocked and how frustrated teachers are with the lack of support of new technologies. If you have ever experienced the discussion you will realize teachers immediately tell you all the things that CANNOT do with their students.
I see this as a ban on educational resources. Some administrators and teachers are working hard ALLOW students to use all proper technologies. Luckily, many schools are adopting google docs or have a password for teachers to by-pass the filter in order to get to what they need to teach. Yes, what they NEED to teach.
I believe it is going to take at least five to ten years to radically change administrators minds because they don’t teach in this environment. Having a filter creates a false security for the administration to ensure that students are not involved with the two P’s – porn and predators. I believe the ownership of the filters should be the teacher within the classroom. When teachers find cool resources, they have to spend the time to make sure they and the students are not blocked. Think of all time that is spent on this and not on actual teaching.
But, we as digital web-based teachers must take some control ourselves. Here is what has to be done in our classroom to ensure a safe and productive work environment with computers.
- First, no more rows! Computers around the edge of the room in order for YOU and the STUDENTS to view EVERYONE’S computer. You must have the screens facing you NOT the student. I know this is a radical idea. But, I have this in my classroom and amazing things have occurred. Students look at everyone else’s computer plus, it is easy for them to ask questions with other students. Also, I can easily get the the student’s computer to help. Finally, it is a safety issue, no more are there cords on the floor, they are plugged directly into the wall.
- Second, empower students to help. Students are a great resource. They know how to navigate around websites and we have really done a good job in teaching internet safety.
As we move more and more into videos, blogs, websites, and all web 2.0 technologies, this is going to be a social issue. Schools that have a “high” filter will be behind and the more “liberal” environment of empowering of teachers will have their students far ahead in both knowledge and 21st century skills.