Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Web filtering fairness

Have you seen this message or messages like it when you were using the Internet at school:

As the World Wide Web became more popular, parents began to worry that allowing their children to use the Web might expose them to indecent material. The US Congress responded by passing the Communications Decency Act of 1996, banning indecency on the Internet. Now many teachers and staff members in schools may begin to notice that more and more Internet sites are being blocked by web filters. This is due in part to the more recent implementation of another response by the US Congress called the Children's Internet Protection Act. This act mandates the use of Web filters in public schools in order for a school to receive e-rate funds for Internet access and Internet connections. Although this seems like a logical way to monitor our students as they "surf the web", there is a negative implication for teachers. As teachers are accessing the world wide web, they are being filtered under same criteria as students. The problem is teachers may need to access blocked websites for their professional or personal use. For example, blogging. Teachers are mandated to incorporate technology into the curriculum and many teachers are creating educational blogs to encourage student participation, student engagement, and improved writing competencies. Unfortunately, many teachers can not use blogs, because these websites are restricted by web filters. Although example, although not as child centered, is personal website navigation. Teachers, like many others, have accommodated their lifestyles to the convenience of the world wide web. One of these conveniences is online bill payment. Unfortunately, many teachers are unable to access these websites because they restricted by the software. Some may argue that personal matters such as paying bills should be done at home and not at work. I believe it unreasonable to expect teachers to delay all personal matters until personal time. Emergencies do occur and the convenience of world wide web will likely expedite a solution so teachers are not forced to miss a larger block of instruction with students.

Many stakeholders advocate web filtering for a number of reasons. They believe that the content on the Internet needs to be regulated so children are not accessing inappropriate materials. These same critics feel web filters are not perfect, and they believe there are unnecessarily blocked sites, but the consensus is that these are "minor problem that can relatively easily be dealt with". In response to stakeholders, school districts have made the investment in web filtering software, but rarely has consideration been given to differentiating software for teachers and students. I believe web filtering software needs to be differentiated between students and teachers. Although sexual content and other explicit content is justifiable restricted, teachers should not be limited to strict guidelines that exclude websites that may be useful in the planning or implementation of lessons and teachers should have access to non-explicit personal websites. Additionally, enough money needs to be allocated for filtration software that allows each user name to have different standards of appropriate content.

Professionals who appropriately use the web should not face this screen in the future:






Hot Links:




No comments:

Post a Comment