The school tech came into my room and asked me to restart my computer for the work order I had put in. I told him that I hadn't put a work order in. He told me that he still needed me to restart my computer because of an update they did with the school's web filter. He left. I obediently restarted. Upon rebooting, I no longer had access to the filter override account. I couldn't access any blogs (including my own), any social bookmarking sites, Flickr, Google image search, twitter, and so on. I had previously been using these resources to improve the content I pushed toward my students in the classroom.
I still was unable to bypass the filter. I sent an email to the school help desk and the school tech who visited me Monday afternoon explaining that I couldn't bypass the filter and that this was negatively impacting my ability to prepare quality content for my classes. The school tech emailed me back promptly explaining that he wasn't the person in charge of the filtration settings and to be sure that I filled out a help desk request (which I did).
I still was unable to bypass the filter. I sent another email to the help desk and the school tech again explaining that I couldn't bypass the filter. This time I also included a list of several web sites that I was using from school to improve teaching and learning in my classroom that were now inaccessible. The school tech dropped by in person to explain that he personally couldn't do anything about it.
I dropped by my local vice principal's office after school. I explained the situation to him, and he called down the school tech. The school tech again explained that he had no control over the school filtration setting, and that he asked his boss (the district head of technology) about it. Turns out that previously when one person used the filter override password, it shut down the filter for the entire district. As a result, they eliminated all override accounts. I asked about setting up a tiered filtration system- different filtration for staff than students. He said it's possible but it would take time and money, and since I was the only person who had a problem with the filter, it's not a priority. He suggested talking to my principal, who could talk to the superintendent, who could then tell him to set up tiered filtration. Did I mention we're between superintendents?
I have several major issues with this whole situation:
- As educators in the 21st Century, we need to be preparing students for the 21st Century. Draconian filtration protocols don't help this situation. I understand the need for filtration at school. I don't understand the degree to which it currently is enforced.
- The district has no educational technologist or whatever the title is. All tech personnel have no education experience. They're solely concerned with protecting their network. This is poor policy. Someone needs to stand up and fight for the educators using technology.
- I was told half-truths on Monday and Tuesday about what was happening. I asked why I needed to restart and then why the filter override wasn't working for me on Monday and Tuesday. My questions were not directly answered until today. I don't understand the reason for this.
I've emailed my principal and overseeing vice principal outlining my concerns with the filtration and explaining how it is negatively impacting my instructional practices. I'm extremely frustrated. I was never exactly happy with the level of filtering at the school, but because of the override I could get to enough resources that I wasn't going to raise much of a stink about it. Now I'm raising a stink- and now that I'm at it, I want students to have increased access as well.
Looking for help
If you have experience at a district with more lax filtration or tiered filtration at a school district, I'd love to hear from you- especially if you're in Connecticut. I was told by our district tech administrator he couldn't even unblock specific sites per teacher request- said the filtration system didn't work like that. That doesn't seem right to me. Is he right? Are filtration systems really that screwy?
Anyone have any success stories on pushing for more lax filtration?
You'd think this would be easier.
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