Wednesday, January 30, 2008

question for educators [no doubt some of my students will read this and comment anyway]

do you believe the students should have access to the "real world" of the net, with guidance, advice, cyber safety education, monitoring by school IT administrator, etc, or should they be restricted from genuine net access and genuine collaborative social software and interaction because of the possibility of access to inappropriate content?
I ask because I am trying to achieve genuine interactive learning and there are pressures to restrict my class's access to the internet to avoid any possibility of "something going wrong".
essentially, my 10-12 year old GATE [gifted and talented education] students can learn online with greater richness and possibilities of interaction and feedback, or they can be restricted to a contained environment.
What do you think? In this case, a contract is signed by all students and if that is breached then they lose their rights to net access.
i sincerely hope some of our "readers" will begin to contribute to enable us to justify our current blogging format.


Lynne Crowe said...

I'm definitely for free access. We have Watchdog on our server which mainly blocks inappropriate sites which hasn't really been a problem. We did have difficulties accessing flickr and you tube last year but our techie was able to lift that restriction. Basically if there is a site which is blocked and we can argue a case for us having access we get it.
Most of our students are using the web freely at home and they have to learn to be discerning and web wise! I'm definitely against any form of a walled garden which seems to be the norm in a lot of American schools.

BTW Have enjoyed reading your last couple of posts (punctuation helps!).

mr woody said...

thanks Lynne! you don't know how delighted I am to actually hear from another 'teacher type'. it has been a wasteland at my end, enriched only by the contributions of my wonderful students.
do you inlcude capitalisation in 'punctuation'? it's my act of rebellion, although i insist on proper nouns being given due respect.

as for your comments - i agree! thanks for sharing - i need to build a case to stop my ICT administrators from cutting off our access - as you say, the kids access the net freely at home so why not teach them how to do it safely whilst at school?

"mr woody"

p.s. anyone posting please say who you are, where you're from, and how yo ucame across our blog so we can get an idea of who is contributing - we'd love to hear from everyone!
this blog may also be used for research purposes so i really appreciate other adult contributions. it's also great for the students to know a bit about their audience in order to help them understand the need for a certain standard and type of contribution.
it has been suggested that i separate professional from class use, but i have found some of the students are interested in our thoughts and contribute meaningfully to the thread.


GR8ESC said...

Hi Mr Woody. I will raise this very issue tomorrow with lots of educator types at Spectrum Education. we could even vote on it as I am armed and dangerous with 100+ clickers! I'm really interested in the idea of putting discussions like this in forums where the students themselves can participate. Isn't that exactly what we're all aiming for: student ownership, involvement, leadership etc. I'll let you know the results...
my identity: jenny sitech now jenny breathe technology...

mr woody said...

Jenny! great to hear fom you - thank goodness you broke cover and blesse dus with your bloggy presence - what's breathe tech? same place new name or new place?
hope you're liking the change. any jobs for haami n i if we get stuck with shortsighted restrictions at school? ;-)
as you say, we want the students involved - it is all about them , afterall. school's being ruled by fear of potential negatives is really annoying and i can't stand it when such considerations mean the kids miss out. afterall, we can only prepare them for the real world if we let them experience the richness of it - they do without our supervision outside of school anyway.
besides, the kids tend to add the most insightful and poignant thoughts...well, sometimes...
keep posting educators!

Teaching Sagittarian said...

Mr Woody
My students are bloggers, and I am a blogger, and we would be most disappointed if your internet access was restricted. The benefits of teaching our students how to communicate globally, interact globally and write for an authentic audience far out weigh the issue of access to inappropriate content and cyberbullying. These issues can be easily addressed as authentic learning contexts whereas assess to the internet can not be authenticated or contextualised anywhere but via internet access. Students are already involved in online environments outside of school and this will only increase over the next few years. We would be foolish not to make use of this rich learning environment which our students are already "hooked" into.

IM A ROOM5IAN said...

i also think if we come across any seriously "inappropriate" stuff (accidently) it would be better to address it now than another time where there is no one to say that is um, unsuitable. but i also think there would probably be a number of students whom would not use this opportunities sensiblely and i am not sure how thaty would be monitered. But as Jenny said, i guess lots of people do not have the rescrictions on their home computer anyway.But i don't think its fair how people are ruining other peoples opportunities because of the way they use their freedom of internet.
p.s. please excuse any grammar, typo's etc.

mr woody said...

Exccellent post, Room5ian. Thanks for your well considered input.

[Educators - ImaRoom5ian is an outstanding student of mine from last year - yr 8 this year]

Kitty Kat said...

As a student I definitly think that we shouldn't be restricted from sites such as youtube, flikr etc. when they can be used for education purposes. Although I do think that some students might misuse these sites therefore there could be a password that the teacher knows to access sites therefore resulting in a safe way for us students to use these sites. I also think that students need to be able to work freely on topics and in ways of their own choice but to be guided so that they do learn from their research. Students need to be interested in what they are learning about otherwise as soon as they learn something they will forget it again as they have no will to remember it.

mr woody said...

great insights girls - and teaching sagittarian - THANK YOU for your valued input. i appreaciate the educationally justified suuport for my case.
opposing views are most welcome.
needless to say, sagittarians make the best teachers and everything else as well.

Toni said...

Hi Mr Woody and Room5ians

I comented on your Waitangi Day post and then read this one so thought I should add my 5 cents worth too.

You may be interested to know that high schools also have many of the same problems with access to sites as do intermediate schools! I think that students should be allowed to explore the big wide www. I think it is really sad that so few ruin such an awesome learning experience for so many. However, I also know there is some content that most adults would want to avoid and that we do have to protect our children from that. Until many many more teachers are up to speed with the internet I don't think we have a lot of choice but to heavily control its use in schools. Which is very, very frustrating! As teachers we need to be clever about the way we use the internet so as to allow our students the best possible learning opportunities within a set of guidelines and boundaries... that sometimes we have to push - hard! But it is truly worth it.

I am a teacher at a high school just down the road from you!!! You will have to guess where though! I teach English and Media Studies.

mr woody said...

Such a valuable contribution to our blog, Toni - thank you!
Certainly food for thought.
good luck for the efellowship and let us know your thoughts on how to use mobile technology effectively to add value to a classroom....