I am in the process of working with a sixth grade teacher to get her students blogging. We've set up blogs on LearnerBlogs, with a few hiccups, and have even written a couple of entries. To me, the real power of blogs, beyond the reading and writing benefits, come in the conversations that are created. When students produce quality work and it's shared with others, there's potential for a lot of learning. I used LearnerBlogs because it was one of the few blog sites what is not blocked by our district. I understand the need for filtering at the elementary school level, and Cool Cat Teacher wrote a great blog about filtering, but there does come a time when we need to open things up for our students.

When teachers log in to district computers, they are not blocked from blog sites, unlike the students. I've experienced a lot of learning from the contacts I've made and the conversations I've been a part of due to blogging. I want my students to experience this as well. I came across a few other student blogs and wanted to share those with my students. I want them to see examples of great writing and great thinking. I want them to compare how they are writing to good writing. Unfortunately, they can't get to these blog sites - they're blocked.

Our district does have a form that can be filled out to unblock sites. It involves listing the site and then stating the educational purpose. I've completed the form and submitted it to the proper administrators. No luck! Even after several conversations, the sites are still blocked. The worry is that something bad will happen. This project is going to be more structured than much of what goes on in my computer lab when other teachers bring their kids in. Some teachers let their kids run wild on Google, but apparently, that's not a problem for the powers that be. Anyway, I feel I've already clearly defined the project, including the safety parameters in place, but still feel frustrated that the district won't open up the 2 student blog sites I want my students to visit.

I really don't know what they are afraid of. We are not opening the project up to the world. I've been in contact with the teachers involved with the other student blogs. Sure, we can't protect the students from everything, but shouldn't we at least give them the chance to learn? If there is anything inappropriate that comes up, isn't that a great learning opportunity for us to talk about?

The district really wants to clamp down on things and mentioned Moodle, even thought they know nothing about it. They suggested I look into that and see if that would serve the purpose, which I guess is to put our kids in a bubble. I don't know much about Moodle, but it appears that it's much more involved than what I need for this project and would be much more time consuming to set up than simply unblocking a couple of sites.

I'm looking for suggestions here. Do you have any ideas on how to proceed? I need help!

2 comments

  1. Guybrarian // March 30, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

    Hi IMC guy!
    Yeah- this is quite a problem. If you were to use Moodle, I don't see how it would be much different than what you have now. (kids see their own blogs and each others, but not the worlds) What about think.com or classblogmsieter? Are these blocked by your district? Both are large blogging communities that have good educational blogs your kids could see and share. But, that would mean you have to move the existing blogs. yuk. Perhaps others can respond to getting the district to move forward....

  2. Joel // March 30, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

    Man, my district blocks blogs for students and district employees. Youtube is blocked (I understand that lots of people waste the resources by watching videos, but others of us want to be able to show the kids great musicians or whatever).

    I have a site for my band that has links to the publisher's websites for the music we'll be playing at contest. Even those mp3s are blocked from time to time.

    Is there a way to get your computer hooked up to a projector and show the good blog sites to your students that way? Then create a link on your site and give the students with internet access a chance to go dig around the site from home?

    Not a perfect solution, but it's something...

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