Should we be worried about filtering?

As teacher librarians one of our roles is to develop a vitual library of websites that teachers and students can refer to while studying.  How should we react after being told about a great website or web 2.0 app only to find that it has been blocked by our education system’s filtering mechanisms?  Do we just accept that the powers-that-be know best or do we strive for change?  In a recent article in ZDNet a teacher librarian makes the case that the filtering system of the NSW DET is too harsh and blocks the use of educationally sound learning opportunities.

Here is a link to the article in question as as TLs we need to think through these issues carefully.  What I do like about the article is that the ‘other side’ offers its reasons as why it blocks sites and web 2.0 apps.

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/soa/Teachers-attack-NSW-DETfilter/0,130061733,339295247,00.htm?feed=generic

Now that address is rather long and unwieldly so I am adding an ICT tip here.  The address can also be printed as

http://tinyurl.com/awuk9t  To find out more, visit www.tinyurl.com to find out how to make long addresses much easier to use.

 

If you have thoughts or would like to make a comment please add them to this posting.  It is an issue we must all address.

3 responses to “Should we be worried about filtering?

  1. Jim Richardson

    Perhaps even more pertinent – though this DIDN’T get included in the article, is the following perspective.
    From http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3749880 :
    “One anecdote that truly illuminates the difference between U.S. and Finnish culture came when visitors asked librarians how they filter the Internet for students. Finnish educators didn’t understand the question, Walker says, because the concept was so foreign to them.
    Finally, the two responses the group got were, “Students know these computers are for learning,” and “The filters are in students’ heads.”

    There IS more than one approach to dealing with the diversity of material available on the Internet. My professional preference is for the Finnish approach. The schools get the same level of filtering as the whole country i.e a limited blacklist.
    But if we DO have to have a technologicla fix foisted on us, let’s at least demand as a profession that the selection criteria are public and contestable, and that performance statistics are publicly available.

  2. My husband sent me a link to the same article, which I also commented about in my own blog. I won’t repeat myself here, but for those wishing to read my thoughts (which are fairly similar to those left on this blog) the address is: http://silverwattle.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/challenges-we-face/

  3. It seems to me that too often people people take a panicked approach to protecting children from inappropriate content on the Internet. There is no substitute for actively supervising children while they visit sites. I don’t think we need to panic and start restricting sites from general access.

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