Safety and Security (Blog Response #3)

on Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ever since I started teaching, I've learned to loathe two different graphics:




Those two images have prevented me from using powerful tools that would allow my students to explore, connect, analyze, evaluate, and create. Each year, more and more sites are being blocked, and the low grumbling of teachers has become a louder, unified (and often unkind) protest. How are we to prepare our students to be 21st century citizens when we only have access to the marvels of 1999?

Slowly, a movement of change is coming. Just this past week, when I was blocked from using a really great educational site (Kerpoof) with my students, I felt that progress would never come to my district. Then, suddenly, the site was unblocked and a “progressive technology committee” was created that consists of teachers, tech department members, and administrators. Although it’s probably more of a trickle than a wave of change, it feels like we’re suddenly moving in the right direction.

We met for the first time this past Wednesday. The assistant technology coordinator began the meeting by explaining the current district filtering policy. Because of CIPA and board policy, we’re conservative in our filtering habits when compared to other districts. But, there is no doubt that we need to become more progressive in our use of web-based resources (including web 2.0). Before we change, we need to spend time building strong PR with teachers and parents to explains the reasons we’ll be using web 2.0 in the classroom. Our AUPs need to be updated. We need a mission statement, standards, and guidelines for best practices with regards to internet-enhanced instruction.

And then, he said the magic words: “We spent the last eight years building our infrastructure. Now it’s in the hands of the curriculum. We need you to tell us how we should be using the system. How can the curriculum drive our technology?” A shimmer of excitement, I’m sure, filled my eyes. It’s like music to my ears! The tech department is ready to shift the way it functions, as long as we help to build a foundation of educated teachers who understand and know how to keep our students safe, but not secluded.

I’m sure there will be many, many bumps in the road ahead. I’m sure there will be times of frustration and miscommunication. Still, I’m glad to know we’re on the right path—even if it’s just the beginning!

4 comments:

Victoria said...

Carrie,

I am so happy to hear about the new technology committee in your district. I think that you will see some changes as a result of this and I am excited for you and your students. Something similar needs to happen in my district very soon. Hving faced similar challenges while trying to implement a new tool in my classroom while we are only granted access to the "marvels of 1999," I can relate to your frustration. In fact, after our internet security class, I felt so embarrassed that I was not well-versed in our AUP that I sought it out. Our technology assistant sent me a link to what she thought was our AUP. The document was created in 1998! I was completely shocked, not only by this outdated document, but by the fact that as a third year teacher in the district I had no instruction on this topic. I never saw a copy of an AUP and I didn't know where to find one. The only information I had on this topic regarded discipline procedures for students caught using the internet inappropriately.

Your technology coordinator is correct in that we, as teachers, need to take some leadership and ask for the changes. Showing administrators what we can do with these tools and how they can benefit our students can definitely pave the way for more access.

Anthony said...

Carrie,

I can only imagine your frustration as a teacher in the program at
PSGV. We're learning all of these great tools but don't have an
opportunity to use them. I can relate as a student working in
corporate as well. My company is conservative and slow to move on
using Web 2.0 tools because financial companies are subject to
numerous regulations and security considerations.

We're in the process of reviewing what it would take for us to
incorporate blogs and wikis into our practice. I'm told it may be a
long process but I'm glad there's at least conversation occurring.

It's great that your school is now open to pursuing the possibility of
additional tools. I think we just need to be patient but also be there
to voice our opinion and help make a case for these tools. Even if we
only start with one tool at a time, we can show the decision makers
how we can make these tools work for our learners but also benefit our
companies and schools too.

helene said...

Carrie,
I can feel your frustration. I am in the corporate world and encounter the same types of road blocks. It's exciting to hear that your district is trying to move forward with Web2.0 techologies. I'm curious, did the technology coordinator talk about next steps? If so, can you share what they are?

Megan Fritz said...

That's great that they're starting a committee....and that you are a part of it. They are definitely starting in the right direction; letting the curriculum drive the instruction with technology to enhance teaching/learning. Now, the hard part: How are they going to keep the focus on technology and organize this shift? Council Rock actually took the RELA curriculum and wrote technology into it. I probably have a copy if you are interested.

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