The Filter. For the Moment.

Nonetheless, I’m as sure as you are that this is a debate far from over, and therefore maintain a stance of open inquiry into whether or not we’re doing the right thing.  So give it to me straight:


  • Would you leave Facebook open on your K-12 network?
  • If so, why?
  • And, what are you doing to train your teachers to effectively utilize it with their students?
  • Additionally, what can you do on Facebook that can’t be done elsewhere?
I think he’s asking important questions – but not the right ones for a filtering decision.  The world’s a big place.  Not everything in it has an educational purpose or goal.  Many things that don’t seem overtly “educational” actually are.  (And vice versa.) Yet – the world is the place that we working in schools are supposed to be helping students to succeed in.  So why do we keep turning off the parts of it that make us uncomfortable?  The questions of Internet filtering are often focused on the notion that we can control everything that happens to a student.  We cannot.   We must create safe environments for learning and teaching – but we should never hide behind empty promises of “safe,” promises we can never actually deliver on. #

18 thoughts on “The Filter. For the Moment.

  1. This is exciting for you and your district, Bud. I subscribe to the belief that filtering blindly sends the wrong message, there are teachable moments in the classroom that aren’t available when access is blindly blocked. I owuld rather teach the “why” in my classroom than leave it for the student to discover and explore sans a teacher. I think that you sum up what many of us in education believe when you say “We must create safe environments for learning and teaching – but we should never hide behind empty promises of “safe,” promises we can never actually deliver on.”
    I find myself trying to create and provide these safe environments, but supporting safe web 2.0 environments like google apps may limit some teachers , yet provide the security that others need to feel comfortable using the net in their instruction and delivery. I struggle to find the perfect balance, one that it seems you guys are finding right now.
    It’s important for me to know that every teacher and their “expertise” are different and therefore a filtering system that allows that differentiation within the individual classroom’s use is a great benefit. I appreciate my district’s three tiered filtering system, but spending time running around bypassing a filter is less than ideal…would a “bypass button” be ideal? Yes, but I do like the responsibility given to us as individual teachers at each of the first two levels.
    I think that your path will serve many of us and many more districts all over, good for you guys for going for it!
    .-= Michael Wacker´s last blog ..Using Google Sites as a Blogging Platform =-.

  2. Obama said in his speech, “… pushing you to learn.” Learning is undersanding and review, not pushing. He said everything wrong! See “Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better” on amazon.

  3. Thank you, Bud, for taking the time to post such thoughtful feedback regarding filtering and (y)our decisions regarding the issue.

    Truth be told, I love your suggestions to trust the teachers and agree that we’ve been putting our trust in filters to do things they were never intended to do. In the end, it should always come down to the teacher being responsible for what takes place during their classes!

    Therefore, I wonder: what are you guys doing when teachers prove they can’t handle the responsibility? You know, you walk into a classroom to see an entire class off-task, playing Mob Wars and throwing pigs. Then what? Or are you OK with that? Do you have a system in place wherein teachers lose online privileges with their students or in the end are you really OK with Facebook (or YouTube or every other online distraction) playing the role of glorified baby-sitter?
    .-= Darren Draper´s last blog ..Why I Share =-.

    1. Darren,

      Thanks for stopping by. This’ll sound like I’m dodging your question, which is important, but I’m going to respond with a question of my own: Why is it the technology department’s role to discipline a teacher who is grossly negligent? Seems to me that’s the responsibility of an administrator working in a supervisory role, not the folks making sure that the technology works.
      I’d no more ask an HVAC technician to discipline a teacher who, feeling a little warm, decided to disrobe in class.
      If a person misuses a resource, you deal with the person. If a teacher is not teaching, you deal with their poor behavior. You don’t close down your library the first time a kid whacks another kid with a book.
      Why do you continue to frame the technology as the potential problem?

    2. Darren and Bud,

      I have had similar conversations in my district around the idea of why do we think we have to have separate rules for technology. The basic values we ask teachers and students to adhere to apply just as well to technology issues as they do to everything else, why with technology do we suddenly think we have to have a laundry list of “shall nots?” Much like our earlier discussion about “acceptable use policies” versus “responsible use policies (,” I would like the focus to be on how students should be using these tools well, not on which ones should be banned or blocked.

      Perhaps this is naive, but this is my basic position: students and teachers know when they are doing the right thing and when they are not. And when they don’t do the right thing, then we should have a conversation with them. But let’s don’t assume they are going to do the wrong thing and then try to “prevent” it somehow by filtering.

      We trust our teachers to be physically in the classroom (and on the sports fields and in our activities) with our students day in and day out, pretty much without any kind of “supervision.” There is much more potential for abuse (in all meanings of that word) in that physical situation than with technology, so why do we continue to invest so much time, energy and money into filtering when we apparently don’t really care that much about what’s going on in the classroom (at least based on the resources we devote to observation/mentoring/professional development)?
      .-= Karl Fisch´s last blog ..A Low-Fidelity Education? =-.

  4. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Bud. I once worked for a very wise principal who often butted heads with his own bosses over all kinds of hard and fast rules. He preferred to handle poor technology behavior on a case-by-case basis. I would suggest to Darren that setting blanket rules to apply “when teachers prove they can’t handle the responsibility” would be a mistake. Irresponsible teacher technology behaviors can also be better handled on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, I cannot imagine coming up with a comprehensive list of unacceptable activities to add to Mob Wars and throwing pigs, although I enjoyed Darren’s examples!
    .-= Mary J. Johnson´s last blog ..An Invasion and a Journey – Via Twitter and Google Reader =-.

  5. I am currently studying this issue now for a large suburb in GA that is very far from even considering allowing Facebook in schools. Twitter, Voicethread, and Wikipedia are blocked. I would so appreciate if you and the other IT decision makers who are reading and responding to this issue could help me with my research on this issue by completing this survey. Perhaps with your help and input- Facebook could be on or maybe near the table in a few years. Thanks so much in advance!

  6. Our school is getting ready to implement P.B.S. which stands for positive behavior support. As usual, it’s completely backed by sound research. Here’s the basic idea: reward positive behavior. Focus less on penalizing bad behavior. Does this have anything to do with filtering? I think so. Like Karl said, we know the difference between right and wrong. If we focus on control and penalties, the results will be less than we expect. Just ask the kids who had a million detentions for not doing homework (like me.) It doesn’t work.
    .-= Chris Moore´s last blog ..Welcome! =-.

  7. Kia ora e Bud!

    I posted a comment against Darren’s post, but I’ll a;so paste it here for I think it’s appropriate:

    Kia ora e Darren!

    I’m quite taken aback.

    If a school blocks Facebook it’s opting out of a whole raft of responsibilities, none the least of which is safe networking on the Internet.

    I have a dozen questions I’d like to put here. The first two are specifically to do with the thrust of your post.

    1 – When should kids be taught the safe and appropriate use of networking on the Internet?

    2 – Who teaches kids this safe and appropriate use?

    My metaphor for the situation is Road Safety when kids are walking on the walkways adjacent to road traffic.

    3 – When should kids be taught the safe and appropriate use of walkways?

    4 – Who takes the responsibility for teaching this to kids?

    5 – Do schools opt out completely and leave this to parents and/or caregivers?

    6 – Do you block kids from going out on the roads altogether? (I know – very difficult to do – Just think about it.)

    7 – If the school could stop them from accessing the walkways, at what age should they permit them to use walkways?

    Say the age was 18 years old (choose your own selected age for this).

    9 – At that age do you permit them to access the roads on their own?

    10 – Is that when you start introducing Road Safety?


    Obviously none of the above ideas suggested in the questions 6 – 11 would be any real use for introducing Road Safety to kids.

    11 – So when do kids get taught Road Safety?

    12 – Who takes responsibility for this?

    If you have answers to the last two questions you may also have the answers to my first two.

    Catchya later
    .-= Ken Allan´s last blog ..Visitor to Second Life =-.

  8. I am currently a preservice teacher majoring in Integrated Language Arts. In my practicum class we are utilizing facebook to teach students in a school district a few states away. We created professional facebook profiles and had the students do the same. Currently, we are posting various writing prompts for our students to respond to. In a few weeks we will using facebook to begin literature circles. I think that facebook has so many possibilities. Sure it helps people stay connected, but it can also be an important tool used in the classroom.

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