Alice, Alice, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?


With filtering software, and monitoring, and students working all in a row?

In Around the Corner v2 – – The Gardener the question of walled gardens comes up. This is based on a back and forth between Brian and Dean Shareski about TeacherTube vs. YouTube and the whether TeacherTube is “fake” or just a different “network” with a different purpose than YouTube. Since I’m starting at a new school site, I thought I’d share some of the issues that are coming up as I bring my new administrator and school up to speed on Web 2.0.

I met with my new principal last Tuesday to let him know my plans for bringing IT into our school. They have had a computer lab for three years, but it didn’t get off the ground for a variety of reasons outside of the school’s control. They, and he would like to have a really top notch technology program just like students in more affluent areas would have.

So he is pretty open about new tools, but it’s also tempered some unpleasant experiences they’ve already had.

Currently, TeacherTube is blocked at my district. The message indicates this is because it is a streaming site, so it’s a bandwidth issue. I’m going to try to have some discussions with folks at the district IT level about this. I was talking to him about using TeacherTube. His first question, “They won’t be able to see pornography on this?”

Okay, that is not the question I wanted. Turns out in the past, some students had been surfing in waters where they did not belong, and this resulted in an investigation leading to all the schools lab computers being confiscated as part of an investigation (fortunately this was just temporary). A situation obviously outside of his control.

I discussed setting up blogs. He asked, “Is this like MySpace?” I assured him that these would be moderated by me, and the blogs I would link to are similarly moderated. Turns out they had a problem with students making gang threats over My Space that resulted in a middle school student showing up on campus with a look-alike weapon (plastic toy gun that had more than a passing resemblance to a 45).

I remember taking a technology course required for my credential and we had a discussion about filtering. The instructor was asking pointed questions about whether it was really harmful if students came across online porno on accident (or on purpose) if it was momentary, etc. What harm was there in them seeing this, was it a serious danger? I shared the story of a trip to the computer lab where I caught a student going to a page on automatic weapons. No big deal my instructor said, maybe he’s into hunting. I pointed out it was in a school for behaviorally challenged students, and that particular student had strong gang ties in his family. I didn’t think he was going deer hunting any time soon, but it was not inconceivable he would use such a weapon in the future but on a fellow human being, not a deer.

I remember listening to Doug Johnson on a Women of Web 2.0 show, and there was a discussion about filtering and what case you should make about that. His point, Administrators do not have a lot of time. Do not waste time arguing the merits of filtering with them [E-rate schools have to filter, so it’s pointless too]. I guess I’m putting these case studies up to add some real examples to this discussion, and show some of the wrinkles you run across in high crime area schools with these issues.

5 Comments to

“Alice, Alice, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

  1. August 25th, 2007 at 1:03 am      Reply Kobus van Wyk Says:

    Your bad news is, in a strange way, good news to me. I want to latch onto your statement: “They have had a computer lab for three years, but it didn’t get off the ground for a variety of reasons outside of the school’s control.”

    When we spend a lot of money to set up a computer lab the expectation is that it must be used immediately. We buy equipment with a three year warranty, so the clock starts ticking away the moment the equipment is delivered. I freak out when I find a lab a few months later which is not used optimally. But it happens, far too frequently for my liking.

    Now I see that it is (like we have discovered so many times by now) not just an African problem – I would never have thought that in your country a computer lab could stand idle for three years.

    I would be most interested to learn what those “variety of reasons outside of the school’s control” are; I am sure it will give us some insights into our own situation.

  2. August 26th, 2007 at 1:33 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

    Reasons outside of their control: They did have a computer lab teacher for two years who for a variety of family and personal reasons, had to take an early retirement at the end of last year. I’m sure that you have experience with employees having family obligations that affect their professional obligations. Those are things you just can’t plan for.

  3. August 26th, 2007 at 3:05 pm      Reply Kobus van Wyk Says:

    Interesting perspective. In our situation the Education Department has not yet seen its way clear to create a “computer teacher” position (or even a lab assistant). At present we train all teachers in the school and expect each teacher to take her/his learners into the lab for curriculum activities. You can imagine that it is quite touch to get most of the teachers to do this.

  4. August 30th, 2007 at 8:01 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

    The discussion continues:

  5. August 30th, 2007 at 8:02 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

    and here:

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