A teacher emailed me yesterday trying to use a Youtube video, which is blocked in our district. I was able to pull down the video and convert it to a format she can use. The issue of what is and is not blocked once again came to the forefront of my day. We are relatively open. We do not block all social networking (although we do block myspace). We do not block blogs or wikis.
Our filter has its limitations. What is in each category is defined by the company although we can choose which ones to block. The problem is our custom whitelist and blacklist is limited to 255 entries. Overall, our settings are pretty good. Most web 2.0 tools are accessible. I can use twitter, post to this blog, use google docs, etc. Sometimes I forget how open we are.
After getting the video this teacher needed, which was of excellent quality and directly relevant to her course content, I asked the teacher if she thought we should open youtube.
Here was her response:
"hmmmm that is a loaded question. I think that there are so many great videos on utube, but they are far outweighed by the ridiculously inappropriate ones. Searches turn up videos that are of no use to a classroom teacher. It can be very dangerous. I guess that about sums it up. With a very HIGH level of guidance utube can be a great resource, but without that guidance it could be disastrous."
I couldn't agree with her more. If we had the ability to open it just for teachers I would. Our filter does not distinguish between users. I wish it did.
Here is an interesting post I noticed today on this very issue: