Educators to Celebrate Banned Sites Day

Educators are getting ready to take a stand against the practice of banning some websites at schools. Could the practice of banning websites be hurting the educational process or is it necessary to keep kids safe? Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


Blocking Websites

Many schools block websites that contain content that would be inappropriate for students. However, a problem arises when websites that could be used as educational tools are also banned. This could include sites like Twitter and YouTube, which offer a variety of educational content and opportunities. Blocking these websites doesn't just impact students, since teachers are also restricted from visiting potentially helpful sites.

A Call to Action

Some educators are no longer willing to just accept blocked sites as a way of life at school. Michele Luhtala, the librarian at Connecticut's New Canaan High School, is planning Banned Sites Day for September 28, 2011. It will be part of a week designed to raise awareness about censorship issues and, during that day, the school will feature websites that schools frequently don't allow, like Facebook and Skype. Although the day is being planned for New Canaan High School, in an April 2011 blog post Luhtala encouraged other educators to also participate in the day.

The Need to Take a Stand

Luhtala wrote, 'We seem to be at a critical juncture in the struggle against overzealous filtering in schools.' She noted that, while some school administrators are willing to lift some of these bans, they have been advised against doing so by network administrators and lawyers. It has to be decided if these bans are protecting students or are actually hurting their learning experiences.

According to Luhtala, blocking so many sites from student use is doing more harm than good. She said, 'We are thus denying students critical learning opportunities about digital citizenship, collaboration and communication.' By not allowing students to use some websites, schools limit access to information that could benefit their learning and give students the message that censorship is okay.

Luhtala also says that it's important for students to have 'online edu-social experiences.' As she points out, students are accustomed to using social media to interact with their classmates outside of school hours once they're home. These same tools, which some schools don't allow, can be used to get students to collaborate in school on class projects. Schools that deny access to social networking sites in their classrooms could be preventing students from using a useful form of collaboration.

While some schools are banning the use of Twitter, others are embracing Twitter in the classroom.

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