Bypassing Filters - or Not

Listen to the podcast Question: Why are you showing teachers how to access YouTube if it's being blocked by their district? Why would you encourage them to violate district policy? The IT Guy says: I received several responses such as this to the column on work-arounds for downloading videos from
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Question: Why are you showing teachers how to access YouTube if it's being blocked by their district? Why would you encourage them to violate district policy?

The IT Guy says:
I received several responses such as this to the column on work-arounds for downloading videos from YouTube when the service is blocked, so I was obviously not very effective in describing my reasons for doing so. To be really clear: I will not post information on how to bypass filters, or how to get around district-implemented technologies and policies. One of the most frequent questions I receive is "Can you tell me how to turn off [insert name of security software]?" Even if I knew of a way to bypass the named product, I'm not going to share it. It's not my role to help people subvert their district's policies.

Which brings us to the YouTube column. While I understand that it could be interpreted as a way to bypass district filtering, I don't see it that way at all. When a district blocks YouTube, they aren't blocking it because the website itself is objectionable, they're blocking it because a small portion of the content on YouTube is objectionable. Since that bad content can't be selectively blocked, the entire site is blocked. The policy isn't filtering the YouTube service, it's blocking the inappropriate videos that can be accessed through the service.

However, there is much content on YouTube that is useful and appropriate for school use. If the entire website needs to be blocked at school, but teachers can access it from home, they can then selectively and professionally access the appropriate videos and bring them to school. It's no different from downloading videos from PBS or National Geographic, and in fact the YouTube videos may actually be from those sources. Telling teachers that they can't use videos from YouTube because some videos are inappropriate would be akin to telling them they can't use books from Barnes & Noble because some magazines there have objectionable content!

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