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Do As I Say…

January 14, 2009

I was involved in a revealing exchange about how schools view the internet recently. I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

A friend (Hi Stephen!) contacted me about some online resources for English and asked if I could suggest any. Inevitably, he mentioned my last post and the discussion going on on the Education2020 wiki about filtering/blocking/censorship… Ironically, this was the reason he had got in touch as he wanted some revision sites and resources that he could recommend to pupils to access at home because they were blocked at school (I’ve posted some of them on my school’s website if you want some ideas!)

Even better, he told me that they would be included in a school study and revision booklet to be provided to the pupils in the run up to their exams.

My question to him was simple: where do I stand if I recommend a site for pupils to access at home when the same site is blocked in school? Am I liable for any content they view? If a site is unsuitable for school use, can I honestly and in good faith, ask pupils to view it at home?

Apparently, the answer to this particular quandary is for the teacher to exercise their professional judgement in recommending a site. Honest. That is what my friend was told when he raised the same question I did.

If the decision is to be based on the teachers professional judgement, then why can the teacher not make that judgement in the classroom in the first place?

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I was going to finish with a pithy comment, but I think you can all write your own punchlines! Anyway, I have to get ready for my first visit to BETT09. Hopefully I’ll see some of you at TeachMeet or in the exhibitions… I’ll be the man with the “Content-Keeper Says No!” t-shirt.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2009 10:11 pm

    I think I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Just spent time copying and pasting lots of useful information from a website on a film I am watching with a class, the site is blocked in school. Another site I sent for unblocking was denied because “it is a blog and discussion forum” – in the past I have used such sites for pupils to write their opinions and post it to the site. I have checked the site and there is nothing wrong with it, but maybe I should set looking at it as homework.

  2. January 14, 2009 11:23 pm

    Today at BETT I found it a very strange experience to see quite so many vendors trying to outdo one another with the extent to which they could tie the hands of students on the web. Site blocking was just the start. There were people proudly boasting about their ability to prevent people using the usual work-arounds… It can’t be long till many staff and students just give up and bring their own connectivity with them instead.

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were people selling video surveillance CCTV for classes, pretending top priority was about recording and sharing good teaching practices. Difficult to see why you’d choose to do that furtively from an enclosed camera high up on a back wall, but,hey, maybe that’s a new best practice.

    Tomorrow I’m going to try hard to overcome this sense that I’m actually seeing technology being used, not to enable new practices, but to enforce compliance with the old ones.

  3. January 15, 2009 5:55 pm

    David,

    That was also my main impression of BETT this year – all those millions of lines of code, and all that coding effort, being wasted on yet more ticky-boxy pieces of crap. What was worse though, were the numbers sitting passively listening and lapping it all up.

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