Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gaining Web 2.0 Access in Schools

Back to the question about why promote Web 2.0 resources when so many schools block them. I think it is important to encourage more positive and reasonable attitudes among our colleagues regarding interactive and social networking sites. In my previous entry I mentioned the one thing I think is invaluable: participation on a campus or district technology committee. If no such group exists, concerned faculty should campaign for the formation of one.

Another important component is accurate and full information. One person who left a comment to my initial entry on this topic said she gained access for a blog after zeroing in on one blog service and building a strong case for allowing students to use that single site. This resulted in students getting the chance to blog at school for the first time. A small step such as this is one good way to open the door to that one and possibly other opportunities.

Also, Nancy Willard shared a great story the other day on LM_NET and gave me permission to share it here:

David "white hat" wowed them all with the opportunities presented by the Web 2.0 connections. And he graphically illustrated the risks (and the reason we need librarians) by showing them an article on Martin Luther King -- and then backtracking to show them that this was an article on a site hosted by the hate group Stormfront (which is actually a Web 1.0 site).

They loved his presentation. Then I got up and told them of these recent LM-Net emails and how the library community is concerned that because of the fears and legitimate concerns is resulting in many districts simply blocking access to Web 2.0.

I had the "black hat" task of discussing the challenges -- cyberbullying risky sexual activities, unsafe and dangerous groups, addiction, unsafe provision of personal information, online strangers. Then I set forth a comprehensive approach to address these challenges -- which will be necessary to take advantage of the opportunities. Each state also received a copy of my "hot off the press" new edition of my book on cyberbullying, which includes a template for a comprehensive plan to address these

You see, we can't just say "we need Web 2.0." There are very real management concerns related to student use of these highly interactive technologies. It is essential to address the challenges to take advantage of the
opportunities. I can't say that they "loved" my presentation. ;-) I stunned them with the range of concerns. I advised them to Google "bypass Internet filter" to witness how ineffective their current management approach is. I laid out an important agenda for revising how schools are managing student Internet use."

Those who would block all Web 2.0 sites and those who would make them accessible share one important attribute: genuine concern for the students. Finding ways to communicate and work together is important. The message I would like to promote is that teaching all parties involved: students, teachers, administrators, and parents about smart and safe Internet use is the only real way to insure that our youngsters avoid the pitfalls that go along with net use.

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