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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Filters & Cell Phones & Encouraging News

Evan Abbey has a potentially encouraging post about venders who sell filtering software to schools.  Go read it, then you can read the comment I left him.

My response:

This is encouraging, but still I have concerns, and reservations, about any vender who is pushing filtering software.


Because they are in the business of selling a product.  Their philosophy on how to use the product does not necessarily enter into the district that buys it.

It is the decision of the local Tech Department (much of the time, because admins and boards know too little) as to how the filter will be used.  The new argument (past 2 years) of the Tech Depts is the "bandwidth consumption."  This is the new copout explanation of why sites are blocked.

Answer - increase the bandwidth.  Provide each school with it's own network, instead of a system-wide network.  Sure it's expensive, but if we would be given the opportunity to spend designated textbook money on networks, the cost is not much different.

Those of us who seek the use of networked resources must not become complacent when the argument changes (from student safety to bandwidth) when the result is still the same...no Internet usage.

I am beginning to believe that the only way the changes in policy will happen is when teachers choose to be life-long learners, and go back to school to become certified technicians, then become network administrators.  This way the people in positions of network authority may have the necessary educational background and pedagogical philosophy to make the changes that must be made. 

Personally, I don't see that happening anytime soon.  That is why I believe our best approach is to get rid of our total reliance on the school network, and move quickly to student-owned, parent-paid mobile technologies. 

As a matter of fact, I would like someone to really forge a paradigm shift by writing a grant that would cover cell phone data plans for all students during school hours.  Schools (teachers) could "credit" or "reward" students with pre-paid cards for appropriate use while using a mobile phone during school hours.  Parents would then have access to the URLs that their children visit, by contacting their carrier.  We then put the responsibility to monitor what kids do online where it belongs...the parents. 

Teachers could use mass SMS to notify parents of assignments which required students to visit web sites during the day...or, better yet, students could send the parent a text message prior to receiving teacher permission to work on an assignment through their phone connection.

What about kids who don't have a phone?  Well, according to Gizmodo, there are 426,000 cell phones decomissioned every day in the United States!  At that rate, with 30,000,000 students in the United States (k-12) it would take less than 6 months for every k-12 student in the United States to have a cell phone to use (that's also assuming half of the decomissioned phones are lost and half are just upgraded).  Talk about a recycling program that makes sense.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous


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