Internet Filtering Questions

  • Does your school/school district use Internet Filtering Software? Yes, our system does use Internet filtering software. We use Fortinet software.  It is a component of our firewall.  We have a basic default policy that blocks things that are potentially harmful such as child abuse, discrimination, drug abuse, explicit violence, extremist groups, illegal or unethical material, plagiarism and proxy avoidance. We also use Lightspeed.
  • Who makes decisions about what is blocked (filtered) in you district? We comply with the Chldren’s Internet Protection Act of 2000, and it is stated in our Board policy on Internet Safety. We also must comply with CIPA to get federal funds for the E-Rate program.
  • Do teachers, parents, and/or students have a voice in this decision? How much? As far as the ultimate decision in having the filter, no.  But having sites unblocked–yes, all of these have a voice in these decisions.  Teachers can request to have sites unblocked. Parents and students can report to teachers to ask for permission to have sites unblocked.
  • Does grade level (Elementary, Middle, Secondary) determine what is and is not blocked? No, however, teachers can request that sites be unblocked.  This can be done permanently or temporarily depending on the nature of the site and what it is being used for in the educational setting.
  • Can you (or one of you colleagues) access the different Web 2.0 tools discussed in this weeks Module for use in the instructional process.  Some of the tools could be accessed but not all, which is disappointing.
  • Can a teacher request that a site be un-blocked for use in the instructional process? Is there a process in place for doing this? Who do they have to ask? Yes, teachers can fill out a request form online and submit it to the technology department.
  • Given the potential for students to encounter undesirable material on the Internet, what is the appropriate balance between protection and free access to information? This can be difficult because there is inappropriate content out there; however, it is irritating when teachers want to show a YouTube video or use a Web 2.0 tool and the filter won’t allow.  It detracts from the lesson, and we are supposed to be a 21st Century System.  Advanced planning and collaboration are the only way I see to achieve balance at this point.  Collaboration among teachers, teachers/students, teachers/parents, and teachers/administration. I would like to see a special committee in place for this.  Also, teachers should try to  plan in advance so they can request that blocks be removed if needed.
  • What is your professional position on the use of Internet Filtering Software and its place in schools today and in the future? Having been a teacher, I know filters can be frustrating; however, as a parent and BOE member, I know that these filters are in place for the protection of the students.  I am fully aware that students who truly want to access inappropriate content can find somewhere and sometime to do that outside of school– and maybe even in school.  However, as a parent, I would be furious if my child were able to do this at school.  As a BOE member, I know the responsibility we bear to do our best to protect our children while educating them.  As, stated earlier, with appropriate collaboration and advanced planning, I think a good compromise can be reached. I asked our technology director his position on this question, and he stated, ” In an educational environment we must continue to provide filtering. We also must must grant access to material that some may find objectionable if it is used for instructional purposes. Above all, we must continue to teach sstudents the inherent dangers of teh Internet and social media.”