Portland high schools block social networking, video streaming sites #Fail

Over the next two weeks, Portland’s school district will install filtering software on laptops issued to high school students, in order to block access to pornography, social networking sites and video streaming sites when the laptops are at home.

The district will install filtering software made by Sophos, an Internet security company based in Boston. The software will be downloaded automatically when students boot up their computers at school. Only when students get home will they discover that their lives have changed in a big way.

No longer will they have access to social networking sites like Facebook and video-streaming sites like Hulu and YouTube. Also blocked will be forums and news groups, games, dating sites, gambling sites and chat rooms. – The Portland Press Herald

This will prove to be the wrong approach. It is incredible how a School District can make this kind of decision. It is further evidence that migrating from old ways of thinking in business and education will take considerable effort and visionary thinking.  Today learning can be reinforced online.

Blocking social networking and streaming video sites inhibits the very nature of how we learn and how the technology can be leveraged to our advantage.  Nearly two years ago Chris Anderson presented, “How web video powers global innovation” at TED. Chris says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.

Blocking rather than learning how to embrace this technology is a disservice to the high school students of Portland. There are better ways to mitigate the risks of distraction, time management or inappropriate online behavior. Perhaps teaching would be a good place to start (rather than putting up the barricade)?

Do you have thoughts or suggestions? Do you think blocking student use of online social and video sharing sites is a good or bad idea?


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