Unlock Web Filters

For all the money in the world, I would decline a carrer in school information technology—if for no other reason than that one responsibility includes content filtering.

Justified or not, nothing causes more disdain from students and teachers alike than not being able to access legitimate web content. To be fair, if notified beforehand, most IT personell grant special access for a certain period of time. But what about those moments of spontaneous instruction that require access to YouTube or social media sites?

Journalism teachers across the country need students to have access to Facebook and Twitter, tools which are legitimately used by any serious journalist. All teachers can post notes, podcasts and video tutorials on a class page, which students could review throughout the day.

New Trier High School in the Chicago suburbs surveyed students about blocked Web sites after loosening its own Internet filters this year. And in New York City, students and teachers at Middle School 127 in the Bronx sent more than 60 e-mails to the Department of Education to protest a block on personal blogs and social media sites. Winnie Hu (The New York Times)

Sure, Edmodo and other social learning sites offer similar services. But for whatever reason, students prefer using the real thing. As educators, let’s stop demonizing social networking and open up the filters. Let’s use this as a teaching opportunity to instruct our students on how to ethically and properly use something that many of them use so often anyway.

As a coach, history and journalism teacher at Brimmer and May, a wonderful independent school in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, I have the absolute best job in the world. I am thrilled to get up every morning to engage with interesting young people, and I'm equally fortunate to have such amazing colleagues and mentors. As the founder of Spin Education, I encourage you to check-in frequently and submit posts and lessons—all in an effort to better our practice as teachers.

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