3 ways internet filtering inhibits learning

New report examines filtering issues and offers 4 recommendations

internet-filteringGrowing up in the digital age means that students have an infinite amount of information available through the internet, but it also means learning reasonable and safe behavior while online.

Federal regulations such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires schools and libraries that receive federal funds to install filtering software in an attempt to keep users from accessing online content deemed harmful for obscene, have in recent years been the subject of heated debates between those advocating for unfiltered internet access in schools and libraries and those who prefer a more secure learning style for younger students.

Filtering also raises issues for adults using public and school libraries. Many school libraries open up to the community after regular school hours, but filtering software aimed at young students may keep adults from accessing valid websites they need for research or personal information.…Read More

Survey: School web filtering can impede learning

Many survey respondents said web filtering can curb learning’s social potential.

More and more students are bringing personal mobile devices to school, but a new survey from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) finds that internet filtering often prevents students from taking advantage of learning’s social potential.

School librarians report that web filtering programs have had varied effects in their schools and on school library programs. Fifty-two percent said internet filters have impeded student research when topics or keyword searches are filtered. Half said web filtering has decreased the number of potential distractions, while 42 percent said it discounts social aspects of learning.

Roughly one-third said internet filtering has decreased the need for direct supervision, 25 percent said it has prevented continued collaboration outside of face-to-face opportunities, and 23 percent said web filtering allows research curriculum to yield more relevant results.…Read More

How to expand students’ ed-tech access—and stay out of court

Cracking down on cyber bullying, searching students’ cell phones, and filtering internet access are some of the areas where educators can get into trouble if they don’t know their proper legal boundaries.

Finding the right balance between keeping students safe and letting them explore their world digitally was the focus of an April 21 session during the National School Boards Association’s 72nd annual conference, in which NSBA senior staff attorney Sonja Trainor gave advice on how school districts can open their doors to technology without getting sued.

Cracking down on cyber bullying or harassment, searching students’ cell phones or laptops, and filtering school internet access are some of the areas where educators can get into trouble if they don’t know their proper legal boundaries, Trainor said. Here’s what she had to say about each of these areas.

Cyber bullying and harassment…Read More

School district, ACLU reach settlement in filtering lawsuit

A Missouri school district has agreed to remove certain filters and submit to compliance monitoring.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said on March 28 that it has settled a lawsuit with a central Missouri school district whose internet filtering software was blocking access to nonsexual websites about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

The ACLU said the Camdenton R-III School District has agreed to stop blocking the sites, submit to monitoring for 18 months to confirm compliance, and pay $125,000 in legal fees and costs. Joshua Block, the staff attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, said the Camdenton school board has approved the consent agreement that was filed with the court on March 28, where it is awaiting a judge’s signature.

As part of a national campaign, the ACLU sued the district last summer in federal court in Jefferson City on behalf of organizations whose websites had been blocked. The blocked organizations include the Matthew Shepard Foundation and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.…Read More

A simple fix for internet censorship in schools

Schools and libraries are hurting students by setting up heavy-handed web filtering policies that block access to potentially educational sites, writes Computerworld blogger Mitch Wagner. Instead, educators should trust teachers and librarians to oversee schools’ internet access. So says Craig Cunningham, a professor at National-Louis University, with whom Wagner talked about internet filtering in schools. Web filtering software should be configured so that, when a student stumbles across a site that is blocked, the teacher or librarian can make a judgment whether the content is appropriate for study, and if it is, the teacher or librarian can let the site through, Cunningham said. “If a student tries to show something that’s part of a presentation and it’s blocked, the teacher types a password and everyone sees it,” he said. “Why should teachers not be in charge of what to teach?” Ultimately, the purpose of schools should be to teach students to live in a democratic society, and that means teaching critical thinking and showing students controversial web sites, Cunningham said. That includes sites that web filters might classify as hate speech, or sites discussing same-sex marriage—both for and against. Students need to access this information under the guidance of teachers and librarians, in the process of learning how to think about these issues…

Click here for the full story

…Read More