New York City Schools are paving the way toward addressing what has long been an issue for low income students:
The filter divide.
Children's Internet Protection Act
Because the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires filtering for schools receiving funding for low-income students to access the internet, many districts have simply gone too far. While their privileged peers whose schools don’t have such restrictions imposed upon them have freedom to roam the internet, many low income students don’t have the same access. They are unable to access sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and are censored from information affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people and educational resources.
Beyond Safety First
Too often district decisions were guided by one thing: safety. While that is certainly important, our students deserve more. They deserve to be prepared for the connected world in which they live. Fortunately, now in NYC, schools will have a much easier time bridging the divide and providing students with access to the resources their more affluent peers have long embraced.
In an article on the topic, Mary Beth Hertz, the art/tech teacher/coordinator at the Science Leadership Academy told the Atlantic:
“We sometimes think too much about the content that we block, and we forget that when we cut kids off from social media we limit their opportunities to succeed, explore their passions, and discover their strengths and talents.”
New York City schools will give students the opportunity to move beyond the basics of safety and responsibility and upward and onward to becoming what the International Society for Technology Educators calls empowered and proactive digital citizens.
The American Library Association Agrees
The American Library Association supports the move to rethink filtering. They have this to say about web filtering:
They sweep too broadly, blocking only some sites with indecent materials while restricting access to thousands of legal and useful resources, and failing to block communications sent through e-mail, chat rooms, non-Web sources, peer-to-peer exchanges, and streaming video—now popular modes for distributing pornography. Filters are cumbersome to disable and to override. They do not reflect library selection criteria, nor do they block the images cited by CIPA as obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. They are costly to purchase and maintain.
What’s more, filters cannot protect children from other dangers and concerns they might encounter, such as potential predators, gambling, or fraud. These are all issues better addressed through education than by pinning one’s hopes to a simple technological fix.
To support schools in this work, the NYC DOE has created social media guidelines, guides for parents and teachers, infographics and activity books for students, related learning opportunities throughout the year, and an online community.
Educator Guide / Infographic
There is also the infographic below which provides educators with a guide to developing empowered digital citizens by outlining the advantages, challenges, and considerations around filtering decisions.
The guiding principal behind this is stated in the infographic:
"If we want to prepare students for the world in which they live, then life inside school should resemble life outside of school. The role of the modern educator is to ensure students understand how to use digital resources responsibly and effectively for college, career, and citizenship success."
Check it out. Share it. Use it to help convince your school or district to stop banning and blocking and start teaching and preparing our students to become empowered citizens.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.