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CIPA and Blocking Sites

If you have an issue with blocked sites under CIPA at your school(s), read this post:

Straight from the DOE: Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites

Straight to the top, the Department of Education’s Director of Education Technology, Karen Cator, “parsed the rules of the Child Internet Protection Act, and provided guidance for teachers on how to proceed when it comes to interpreting the rules. To that end, here are six surprising rules that educators, administrators, parents and students might not know about website filtering in schools.

1. Accessing YouTube is not violating CIPA rules. “Absolutely it’s not circumventing the rules,” Cator says. “The rule is to block inappropriate sites. All sorts of YouTube videos are helpful in explaining complex concepts or telling a story, or for hearing an expert or an authentic voice — they present learning opportunities that are really helpful.”

2. Websites don’t have to be blocked for teachers. “Some of the comments I saw online had to do with teachers wondering why they can’t access these sites,” she says. “They absolutely can. There’s nothing that says that sites have to be blocked for adults.”

3. Broad filters are not helpful. “What we have had is what I consider brute force technologies that shut down wide swaths of the Internet, like all of YouTube, for example. Or they may shut down anything that has anything to do with social media, or anything that is a game,” she said. “These broad filters aren’t actually very helpful, because we need much more nuanced filtering.”

4. Schools will not lose E-rate funding by unblocking appropriate sites. Cator said she’s never heard of a school losing E-rate funding due to allowing appropriate sites blocked by filters. See the excerpt below from the National Education Technology Plan, approved by officials who dictate E-rate rules.

5. Kids need to be taught how to be responsible digital citizens. “[We need to] address the topic at school or home in the form of education,” Cator says. “How do we educate this generation of young people to be safe online, to be secure online, to protect their personal information, to understand privacy, and how that all plays out when they’re in an online space?”

6. Teachers should be trusted. “If the technology fails us and filters something appropriate and useful, and if teachers in their professional judgment think it’s appropriate, they should be able to show it,” she said. “Teachers need to impose their professional judgment on materials that are available to their students.”

Read the whole post for the entire transcript of the interview.

There will always be people in the world who see a rule and find a way to over-implement it to the detriment of
our kids, teachers, and education.

Eight Surprising Websites That Schools Can’t Access

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Why should your childhood friend’s old basement PC be better than your school’s? Do we have to learn everything on the street? (ironic humour in case you missed it)



Posted on: April 26, 2011, 3:59 pm Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. THANK YOU!!! This is so valuable. I teach in a free-range media/BYOD school (New Canaan High School, New Canaan, CT), and I blog about using social media for instruction ( My colleague, Cathy Swan, put together a survey a while back, and our 216 respondents tell us that

    Google Search is blocked for 14% of high school students
    Google Images is blocked for 23% of high school students
    Google Docs is blocked for 27% of high school students
    YouTube is blocked for 62% of high school students
    Facebook/MySpace is/are blocked for 87% of high school students
    Personal email is blocked for 47% of high school students

    Our survey is rudimentary, and clearly leans toward commercial social media mainstays. I wish we’d included Skype and Twitter, but it does give a big picture of what is blocked. I was recently sent the results of a 2009 survey, conducted by Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD), called Digital Districts: Web 2.0 and Collaborative Technologies in U.S. Schools, which collected responses from 500 Directors of Technology. I am not sure that it answers our questions, but it bears mentioning.

    I facilitate a professional learning community for school librarians, and I am amazed at how many districts use the CIPA rationale to block educational sites. Just last week, I heard of districts that blocked Wordle, and LibGuides! This post will help clarify the misconceptions about federal regulation. Thank you again for setting the record straight.

    In celebration of the first amendment, the American Library Association dedicates the last week of September to the the freedom to read, and calls it Banned Books Week (BBW). At New Canaan High School, we will dedicate our September 24 – October 1, 2011 censorship awareness campaign to blocked Internet sites and call it Banned Sites Week. We invite other educators and librarians to join us.