from the Director's Desk

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What Is Safe Anyway?

Years ago when some of us were first advocating Internet as a tool for classroom instruction, we talked about creating a safe environment for our students by bookmarking sites, designing our own web pages, and of course requiring signed AUPs. We also talked about the pros and cons of filtering because this was before CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) that mandates all schools receiving E-Rate and other federal dollars must provide filtered access on all computers. I had hoped that we could now concentrate on conversations about using technology resources in educational and productive ways.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Recently valid concerns have reached the ears of Congress—realities that every parent, educator, and/or responsible adult should be aware of. Far too often our children are finding, downloading, and even interacting with electronic resources and the people behind them in inappropriate ways. They are giving out their addresses and phone numbers, creating relationships with individuals far too old and experienced for their childhood or teenage years, even participating in games or behavior that would make our adult selves cringe in horror or disgust.

But is DOPA, which piggybacks on CIPA and its E-Rate provision and broadens filtering in schools to include social networking sites like blogs and podcasts, the answer to our fear and uncertainty in a sometimes alien environment? Can we as a nation legislate good behavior with such a broad brush? Are there more effective ways to counter the less savory aspects of electronic resources? Should schools be the primary focus here? Shouldn’t sites such as the blogs that Carteret County teachers are using with their students or the podcasts that Williford Elementary is creating for EOG review be encouraged, not limited by possible legislation?

What a shame that some of these innovative ways of enticing teachers and students to use technology educationally and productively may disappear under DOPA, along with the more raunchy ones! A small price to pay, you say? Perhaps you may want to reconsider and even write to your Congress person. Joe Poletti has a sample letter on his blog Check it out and thank Joe for his activism.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you stated, legislating good behavior is an ineffective way to address safety issues that come with internet usage. Instead, perhaps we should be focusing on teaching our students the dangers that lurk on the internet and instilling responsible behavior in students. I feel that more indepth internet safety should be included as part of the public school computer skills curriculum to ensure that every child, and parent, is informed of the dangers that lurk on the internet and how to safeguard against them. Just as with real-world peer pressure, students will have to take some responsiblity in the "virtual" world as the internet and it's associated technology becomes ever more embedded in our society.

November 01, 2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger Frances said...

Internet safety must be a priority in any classroom. NCDPI has 2 Educators-on-Loan that are trained in the iSAFE curriculum (designed by the Attorney General's office). They conduct workshops for educators, students, and parents.

November 01, 2006 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am familiar with the iSafe curriculum, and it is excellent. However, when relaying information to students, the iSafe curriculum would need to be presented consistently, in a measurable fashion to ensure that students are retaining the information over time. Many schools do not take advantage of the iSafe training available, and without a mandate to do so, many would not neccessarily choose to.

November 03, 2006 9:26 AM  

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