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Frustration… February 25, 2009

Posted by handspiker in Uncategorized.

With technology one assumes some frustrations occur at some points. Many a times I have gone to set up the digital projector and it was missing cords, websites down, and the Internet not working. The biggest frustration over the past couple of years has been the school’s Internet filters. I realize that in this day and age there is a need to be cautious and protective over the youth that come to our schools, but where does it end? Each day [it seems] there is more and more blocked. All it takes is one keyword to block a site and to have it removed seems to take it forever.

Case in point today was my Classroom Blog. I was creating a new Journal Entry on the change last month with Minimum Age Employment being reduced from 16 to 15 in certain sectors. I have found doing it on my blog [instead of paper] I am getting much more thought and feedback from students as I am talking their language. Likewise for my Work Exploration students doing their blogs online, they are doing well but found themselves blocked. However as I outlined previously in another blog, one of the challenges with moving journals online is that not all students have access to computers at home. So I am relying on school to have this access for some (whether it be at lunch, breaks, spares, before or after school). It took some lobbying by Jim (an administrator that uses blogs) and myself to have these unblocked but it happened.

Well lo and behold today the sites were blocked again. Augh!!!! I work for a school division that wants us to be more active in using technology to increase/assist student learning. However these roadblocks continue to happen. With our teacher accounts we are not as filtered so I often don’t know this is happening. I realize that in today’s society that at times we must be vigilant in what happens or could happen on computers, but can’t there be a happy medium. We can’t be told to adopt and use greater technology and then have access to it blocked. This has been getting worse and worse each year. Doing a Canadian identity assignment last year with my Alt. Ed. class I found a website on moose was blocked. This just wants to make me through my hands up and quit.



1. Suzanne Shanks - February 27, 2009

Dear Handspiker,

I, too, experience blocking and filter frustrations daily. The other day a couple of my student found some porn that got through. Then we couldn’t go to Disney CyberSafety. WTH? I have no answers from you except to keep peaceably and respectfully lobbying the IT Powers That Be. I’m in the fight with you and I know it is slow going. Sometimes I think all the folks over 40 at Central Office need to retire before things will loosen up, but I know that’s not true. After all, I’m 46 myself! 😉

I pray that things change enough to ease your frustration before you leave high school. Just hang in there knowing that millions are wondering the same things and feeling the same frustrations. Sorry I could only give you encouragement instead of a better answer.


A Middle School Technology Teacher in Colorado

2. Ben Wildeboer - February 27, 2009

This situation of excessive filtering in schools that like to proclaim themselves as “forward thinking” is very common. I’ve never known working at a school where I wasn’t constantly pushing against strict filtration levels. It’s very frustrating at times. I can’t access my own education blog from school- or most any other website that calls itself a blog.

As much as this situation may make you want to give up the use of technology, I urge you to keep bringing up the issue. School leaders need to have conversations with teachers, students, administrators, and technology officers on where the filter levels should be set. I’m currently tied up with the exact same fight in my district. I’ve been told it isn’t a priority and that I’m the only person who has a problem with the filter. I know many other teachers have the same issues I have. It may be slow and frustrating work, but it’s important to make sure those in charge of the filter know that simply blocking everything without considering why it’s being blocked isn’t acceptable.

Good luck!

3. Connie Sitterley - February 27, 2009

No-don’t quit-the value to the students of teachers who care and push ahead to provide for collaborative opportunities really is worth the trials. As a tech director for a k-12 district, we have been modeling, discussing, encouraging…whatever it takes…to help our curriculum directors, admins and board see that for years. While we do need to provide some structure of protection for the inappropriate on the web, we are teachers-we are here to help students learn the appropriate management of content-I encourage you to continue to find ways to tie the use of these tech tools to support and enhance your students’ learning-then never miss an opportunity to talk about it-to other teachers, admins, parents- whoever will listen. When a staff member comes to me to ask about something they want to do, I look for well-developed ideas and reasons why it is absolutely necessary for their kids-I try very hard not to say no-convince them-it really is worth it!

4. Cathy - February 27, 2009

Hi Todd, I came here as a result of courosa’s twitter message. I am also in a school district that wants teachers to incorporate more technology into teaching, but we are so blocked that teachers get frustrated and don’t bother to try anymore. I teach a two year major that has been called Digital Communications for five years, it is being changed to Interactive Media for next school year. It seems like a joke to me, because everything that is going to be involved in this major is blocked to us!

More and more teachers need to address this with the superintendent of schools in the hopes that they know enough about emerging technologies to understand the needs of teachers to reach today’s students.

Good luck to all of us!

5. Bill Genereux - February 27, 2009

Our town has been doing a series of workshops, one of which I offered on social media tools and promoting a business online. We were permitted to use the high school’s computer lab for this purpose, and though I’m not a teacher there, I’m acquainted with the school & it’s policies so I contacted the IT director in advance to request YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. be allowed through the firewall for the evening. My workshop came off without a hitch. The next week, however, a graduate of the high school and local IT guru offered his workshop on various computing tools, but didn’t know about the blocks in place and was forced to move his workshop to the town library just to be able to show some YouTube clips he wanted to share. Embarrassing. You should know this stuff, but it’s not available to our kids at school.

I want to know exactly what we are protecting our students from? Especially at the High School level? One of my networking (college) students is working part time for another local school district. Using the rad network management tools he learned about in my class he busted a kid looking at adult websites via a proxy server that bypassed the firewall rules. Clever kids can still circumvent the system. Better to teach responsible behaviors than to try to “protect” them.

6. Stardiverr - February 27, 2009

I feel for you…… it’s been a battle for me too. I’ve gotten around my personal school network issues by getting a broadband card so at least I have access to whatever I need. It’s a real chance to educate tech coordinators as well as my peers. Our tech coordinators think that Diigo and Delicious are like Myspace. Some of my peers turn students loose in a computer lab with no guidance, no real purpose, and not much supervision. One teacher gave her login info to her sons who then logged in as her and were caught surfing porn. Huge roadblock for those of us working to use technology responsibly.

I’m coping by doing my best to educate. I’ve been a very responsible technology user and finally convinced the tech guys to let my upper level classes have wikis and blogs. The kids are so busy when we have lab time and are so engrossed in making cool online things that they really don thave time to go astray (so far.)

We have wireless access issues, login issues, Flash/Java/blocked sites/you name it issues. I once went to a web page at a domain I own to retrieve some of my underwater photos and found that the domain was blocked. It’s taken years, but I’ve nearly convinced the tech people that I can be trusted and

Hang in there. Keep doing what you’re doing.

7. Sarah Hill - February 27, 2009

Yes technology can be frustrating sometimes – I feel that it is out to get me quite often. Yesterday, I met with a group of students on Skype to show them what the snow looked like to only find out that my webcam decided to not work for me during the time I needed it too (it worked before and after the call was made…jeeze!). I think this is why a lot of teachers do not use technology in the classroom because a) it can be frustrating and b) the set up can take way to much time (and time is limited!). As a young teacher, it is beneficial to hear that more and more sites are being blocked on school computers – How is it possible to embrace the technology they are teaching us to embrace when it is so difficult to do so?

8. Skype - the latest classroom tool « Miss Hill’s Blog - March 1, 2009

[…] work when I wanted it to.  Even though technology is such a helpful tool, it can be a frustrating tool as well.  Maybe this is why a lot of today’s teachers do not feel comfortable enough […]

9. trevor gerwing - March 6, 2009

True Dat Todd!!! The filters are getting completely out of hand. I do, however, understand the need for them. Supervision of students in labs is far too lax, perhaps if we as teachers do a better job of monitoring students in our labs, the need for more and more filtration will dissipate.

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