Thursday, November 02, 2006
Welcome to the War Zone 
These articles are nothing new, but since it's the school district my daughter is in now, it feels more personal: B.C. school district locks down desktop access to iTunes, MSN. It's not a bad article, giving us a glimpse inside the IT workings of a school district and outlining the challenges...but this quote just killed me:
"Managing a high-school student is akin to being in a war-zone, said Danny Francisco, IT manager at SD67 in Penticton."
A war-zone? I'm trying to be sympathetic, and acknowledging that on the ground it's not all about dreamy-self-directed-self-actualization-web-as-universal-translator-knowledge-base-etc...but treating students like enemy combatants can't be the way to teach them to use the web. And what's with the military metaphors? Last week it was minefields.

I mean, blocking MSN? This is how young people communicate about their lives, their friends and their homework.

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This won't happen in my (small) District, but I've paid a price for standing up to the push to go this way. Some teacher's feel they can't tell students what to do once they're on a computer. They want me to create an electronic "rubber room" where no action has negative consequences. But I won't do it. Students need to learn to take responsibity for their activites; that online conduct has real world consequences. Recently a student got a week's suspension for uploading a video to youtube that contained threats.

Hi Rob. Good for you for standing up to the pressure to lock down the web. It must be very difficult to be in that position, and I don't envy your role.

"Students need to learn to take responsibility for their activities; that online conduct has real world consequences."

Exactly! It's an opportunity to guide, coach and participate to make sure kids are really learning how to operate in these new environments. The lockdown approach is really a copout, telling them that we'd rather restrict than teach.


I think this speaks to a larger problem. Students are so wired and connected at home, on the bus, on the weekends and then they get to school and they are "de-wired." The message is clear to these students, the school is out-of-touch with how these students like to learn and are living thier lives. I understand you need some restrictions but blindly cutting off communication with the wired world is not the way to do it. Also, I think many school IT folks are behind the times when it comes to technology.

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Welcome to Jeremy Hiebert's instructional design and technology blog. Feel free to comment on postings, or e-mail me. Check out my personal/family blog at your own risk.

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    I'm also studying how people envision their future lifestyles as the basis for a new web application.


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