Should we open the cage?

A few days ago I posted about the whole “walled garden” idea and how not being allowed to access any number of sites is very frustrating for both learners and teachers. Durff over at Durff’s blog picked this up and continued the conversation. I’d like to further add to her point that

Learners’ today have expensive phones and/or iPods with them 24/7. They can connect to the internet instantly outside of the school’s control. They can listen to podcasts of whatever they downloaded outside of the school’s control.
Tightening control is not going to work. The IT departments have already lost control. So where do we go from here?

The whole idea that somehow we will be able to continue to limit what students have access to is unrealistic. In fact, we may soon be unable with such things as linking through plugins and other such actions. What we really need to focus upon is not how do we keep them from accessing particular subjects or keep them safe but how do we teach them about the impact of accessing particular sites and how do they keep themselves safe.

I realize that many IT departments are trying to provide the best options that they can but they just do not have the resources to do it all. I would rather see them focus on making sure that networks are operational and in working order, machines are replaced in a timely manner, the internal system of the school division or district is not compromised and teachers have access to a variety of tools that they can use when teaching. I see this as being the next move in the evolution of schools as we move from trying to filter everything and watch everyone to accepting the connectivity of society and planning to harness that in a way that it will enhance the learning opportunities for students in a number of ways beyond what we are doing now.

What has your district or school board done in regard to connectivity? Have things improved or grown tighter?


  1. Reply

    This is a great example of what can be done if people are willing to look for solutions instead of just closing the door. Unfortunately, there are too few cases like this, although things are improving. We have enough people who are trying to legislate controls that, in the end, will only bring about more problems. As life long learners, educators can be at the forefront of using the changes that are taking place to better engage their students or try to put up walls to resist it. Unfortunately, these walls will be coming down! thanks Dave.

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