I have heard the excuse that money is attached to filtering certain content, or that ignorance to digital media causes a knee-jerk reaction to block & ban everything and people have even told me that kids can't handle an unfiltered environment.
Today I arrived at school to find that, as promised in an email Friday, YouTube and GoogleDocs are now unblocked in my school district. The number of happy teachers far outnumbers the nay-sayers so far. Two teachers have already started using movie clips and GoogleDocs in their classes today! Instead of allowing students to discover these new tools on their own, and risk them thinking they have stumbled upon a secret, I used this as a great opportunity to talk (again) about appropriate internet use. I showed the students a few examples from the historyteachers to show some of the content-rich material available via YouTube. The science department is very excited to finally be able to access some great videos concerning real-world science. I am proud to say that several teachers in my building have slowly been emailing and urging the people in charge to take a serious look at our filtering system. It is also nice to see my district act in a progress way and trust faculty and students to use these new tools for academic endeavors. This is really a case of "one man can make a difference" actually happening.
My next challenge is to decide how to help acclimate staff with these new sites. Students will be students and the next two weeks until winter break will see students going on YouTube for other than academic reasons; at least that is the stereotypical thing to say. It is my gut feeling that if we engage students in conversation concerning YouTube and GoogleDocs, then it will be a great assess to their learning. I was thinking about addressing each grade level during advisory to talk about digital citizenship and leaving positive digital footprints. What are your thoughts? How should we react when students are surfing the web? Please leave a comment or suggestion.