October 5, 2007 § 1 Comment
While I don’t always agree with everything Miguel says, this really hit home with me:
As you know, YouTube is blocked in our school district. In spite of my efforts to change this decision, a small group of individuals in the Technology Department have decided to block web sites that might bring negative media attention to the District. As you know, negative media attention is of greater concern to school leaders than raising up young Americans who value intellectual freedom, critical thinking, and learn how to evaluate the content they experience, whether it is video, audio, text in any medium.
That’s how I felt when I was in NEISD. At least in a smaller district I have a little more influence over what types of things are blocked. We just unblocked a wikispaces site for a high school teacher who is using it with his class. His entire wiki is developed, along with a plan to use it and a consent form that goes home with the kids, but we still had to have that conversation about should we unblock it or not. Thankfully, the other people in my department saw it as a no brainer as much as I did. The day we found out about it, it was unblocked.
Are we opening a can of worms? Maybe. However, we’ve got a teacher who is an advanced user, who is learning and using Web 2.0 tools on his own, and we’re not offering him any alternatives. Why should we punish him?
It’s a shame that school districts are such political machines. It’s even more of a shame that the media focuses so much on the negative. How many negative stories versus positive stories about schools do you hear on the news? Unfortunately, that’s the way it is, and the larger districts are always watching their tails to make sure they don’t get stepped on. In the process, then end up stepping on their teachers and students.