Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why teachers give up on web 2.0

(I'd love to quote directly, but his school has a tag on his email prohibiting any such use. The message is, however, archived and available on the classblogmeister list)

Wondering why teachers give up on web 2.0 technologies? Read this short post about which is better, wikispaces or pbwiki. In the end, it simply does not matter what a teacher thinks. Place the blame where it obviously belongs:



Anonymous said...

That is sad.

Although I've had my frustration with blocked sites I'm fortunate to be in a district that is encouraging the use of wikis. I just set up a wiki for the staff at my school on pbwiki and it's starting to get used! I'm hoping that as teachers get comfortable using the staff wiki, the idea of using wikis will spread into the classroom.

Wesley Fryer said...

The fundamental issue is that Schools and School leaders are not comfortable or accepting of user-created content sites. Traditional views of School reinforced in our current culture of testing are not open to the idea of students writing and publishing. This points to the vital importance of getting school leaders on board with the utility and need for social web tools like wikis. I would encourage a teacher in a situation like this to get their specific wikispaces or pbwiki site whitelisted by the school district or the company handling the district's content filtering. It may take a presentation in front of the school board (it has for some teachers in Texas to be able to use Classroom Blogmeister) but it is pretty reasonable to ask the "authorities" to whitelist a single wiki site. Yes, it would be better for schools to leave these sites accessible and then hold students (as well as staff) responsible for their individual choices if they choose to access objectionable / offensive / inappropriate wiki content. Those blocking these sites are justifying their decision saying things like "bad wiki sites are available on this domain, so we block the entire domain." That is why asking for whitelisting of the specific teacher wiki site is a reasonable approach to take. Also, teachers via campus-based committees and other forums, and district technology departments should be working to provide differentiated levels of Internet access through a content filter for teachers versus students. Currently most midwest schools I work with filter ALL users the same on the network. Some are starting to leave more websites open for teachers who login to the network, and more severely censor/block content for student and guest users.

I was surprised last week when I was in China to see that the level of content filtering there is LESS severe than that in many of our public K-12 schools in the United States. In China currently, all pbwiki sites are blocked but wikispaces sites are accessible. Of course, that could change tomorrow. I had to use a proxy service (I used proxify.com) when in China to access and update my pbwiki site. Sad that this type of circumvention is necessary. Obviously teachers should NOT suggest that students follow this path to access content at school... So I think the "please whitelist my specific wikisite" is a good path for teachers to follow in this context.

No doubt this IS very frustrating, and many ARE and WILL give up..... but we need to continue to encourage each other and not give up the fight.