October 7, 2008

School Blockage

Doug Johnson, as always, has a thought-provoking post up about the use of Facebook and other social networking sites and their use in schools.  His main point: don't go blocking sites without probable cause.  Give everything the same due process you would any other form of information.

It caught my eye because in my Information Technology class this week, we are to pick a "Web 2.0" tool and put together a slide show on it telling how this would be useful for educators and students.  My assignment is Ning which I can't link to here because I'm at school and it's blocked by our filter.  All social netwroks are.  So I can't get on the TeacherLibrarian Ning and see what others have to say about this issue (actually I can, but, well, never mind).

Our district has recently blocked Wikipedia for crying out loud.  Ridiculous, I know.  The Effing Librarian has a great post on that.

From others in my class I hear all personal email sites are blocked.  That would do me in.  One of the things they're always bugging us about is that "the server is running slow, please delete old emails with attachments."  I never have emails with attachments.  Anything at all that I want to keep like that, I forward to my gmail account.  It all goes straight into a big bucket of a folder labelled "school" and if I need to find it, it's all searchable.  Imagine how happy our tech folks would be if everyone did that.  Imagine how sad it would be to block gmail.

This is all reminding me of a great book I read a few years back called Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do.  The author is against any law that could be considered victimless like drugs, prostitution, book banning, etc.  I don't always go as far as he does (making stupid people wear motorcycle helmets saves us all money, not just the lives of stupid people), but the ideas are worth considering--especially in this new context of digital media.  The "online predator" boogyman has been debunked.  Personal information needs to be kept safe, but guess what?  We can teach that along with being a responsible digital citizen and how it would be a bad idea to post that video of you barfing at the kegger because someday a future employer will be googling your name.