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EdTech Update




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Filtering survey responses

Here are the results of the 30-second survey on the efficacy of our Internet filtering. Comments following are interesting. I was pleased with the results - seemed we have things tuned pretty well.

Survey results of October 3-7, 2011:

Comments: (My comments in parentheses. - Doug)

student academic research options are limited for advanced placement courses (no further clarification)

Facebook ???? not much education use that I have observed.

How do I change the settings on the Spam filter to allow some regular newsmagazines such as Star Tribune and Christian Science Monitor to come into my regular mailbox? (Send me the email addresses that are being blocked and we can add them to our spam filter white list. - Doug)

I used to often use you tube clips in my class to show science demo's, clips of documentaries and other chem related clips. It was a fantastic easy to use resource. I can no longer use them due to them not loading. (Have you tried again this year? We've increased our bandwidth. YouTube is NOT blocked.)

You can still see obscene images through a Facebook. (Can you provide an example of this?)

I would like to see Facebook as a blocked website.  It is always a continued struggle trying to keep students off Facebook during class!

Facebook NEEDS to be blocked by our district.  It is a social network site NOT an educational site.  Teachers are not encouraged to use facebook due to potential problems that could arise so why would it be educational for our students?  Our students will be the first to tell you Facebook is a place to waste time when they are bored.  Let them Facebook at home.  If they dont have a computer at home then allow Facebook in the morning and after school ONLY. (The filter is not meant to be a classroom management tool. Any site on the Internet could be potentially distracting. I would be asking myself why your students are bored in the first place.)

I think we should be banning Youtube and Facebook as a searchable application. (Why?)

I have not been able to supplement social studies from the inter net

While helping a student find a picture of a peanut butter sandwich, we Googled images for peanut butter sandwiches. There were many to choose from, but I had to quickly scroll back through the photos before the student noticed an inappropriate picture. Also, while I was preparing a presentation about Sweden on my school computer, Googling images of Sweden included bare-breasted blondes! If a student were to do the same independently for a report, etc. from a school computer, the possibility exists for these images to appear. Should I be expecting that the school filter would eliminate the possibility. I thought it would. (My understanding is that the latest upgrade to our filter enforces the "safe search" in GoogleImages.)

Sometimes need You tube for short Art demonstration videos. Would like to be able to show those. (YouTube is not blocked.)

I am very pleased with our  filter.  I have been to other schools that were so limited that I couldn't even access Sesame Street clips on youtube.  I am happy to not have problems of that sort here.

After releasing the results of the survey to the staff, I received these follow-up comments:

While I completely understand the comments made regarding blocking Facebook, I have a concern in regards to my position if Facebook were blocked.  On bad weather days, KEYC's Weather Page, Mitch Keegan, and Mark Tarello post any and all weather information, including watches, warnings, schools that are beginning to close, undated forecasts and weather conditions, etc to their Facebook pages before the information is posted anywhere else.  I use those pages, along with 10+ other weather websites, to put together the most comprehensive information regarding weather.


A response to the "Facebook" comment...check out Mankato West Art Department on FB...I think if you dig through the almost 70 photo albums I have created of student work you will even find something of Brady's online :>)  I use this page and photobook reference ALL THE TIME in my classes.

The Facebook controversy will not be resolved for a time, but if I were a betting man, I would say that the site will continue to grow and be viewed as educationally valuable. Specific Facebook apps that help improve collaboration among students will keep coming out. An increasing number of teachers and administrators will use and become more comfortable with Facebook.

I am hearing the same arguments for blocking Facebook that I had for not giving kids ANY Internet access in the mid-90s. We'll get beyond it.

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Reader Comments (3)

It all comes down to how teachers and students USE the interwebbings. We spend a great deal of our instructional time in the library working on the internet, and we reinforce the notion that while Google is a useful tool for finding the weather, movie times, and who Justin Bieber is dating this week, it really cannot do much for school projects. I told a class this week that we have a basket full of cute puppies in the back room, and that every time I see one of them on Google, I am forced to go back there and kick one. I joke, of course, (and the kids got the joke), but I want them to see the value in using paid databases (we were using SIRS from ProQuest for this unit), versus "just Googling it".

We have a subscription to Discovery Streaming, a much more curriculum-aligned source than YouTube for instructional videos, and we encourage teachers to search YouTube IF they cannot find what they need on Discovery.

Our library has a Facebook page (, and we use it to keep in touch with our kids, teachers, and parents. Facebook cannot compare with our expensive educational databases at present, and for now, I am glad it is blocked on our campuses. When the shine wears off and kids no longer use it (Myspace, anyone?), and IF Facebook rolls out apps we can use in education (i.e., becomes boring), I may recommend we whitelist it. It is such an attractive nuisance, however, that classroom management is enhanced by it being blocked.

The most exciting, riveting, engaging lesson (or teacher) in the world will not keep some kids from checking their Facebook pages. Facebook is like that shiny red button. We know we should not push it, but there it is, calling to us...

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLen

My personal opinion is that kids need to be given enough rope to cross whatever bridge or chasm they choose to cross - which also gives them enough rope to hang themselves. It might mean that I am doing more over-the-shoulder teaching, but so be it. I have no problem sending a student to the office or writing up a referral if they are doing something against school policy.
We cannot keep the kids from littering no matter how many trash cans we place in the quad, so all the filtering and rules won't stop bad choices on internet use. Yes, we need filters (just like we need trash cans) and yes part of a teachers job is catching the bad guys...but if we don't allow them to fail in a relatively safe environment where someone is there to help them make better decisions, where are they going to learn?
If I have learned one thing so far this school year, it is that students just don't know. They use technology every day but they don't know much beyond push and click.

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I like the trashcan analogy. And I think we are on the same page about what I call "safe mistakes."

Thanks as always for the thoughtful comment,


October 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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