Mane (CRIN 604)

         Digital tools in education

February 15, 2010

Second Life: VSTE, Presentation on Internet Filters

Filed under: Internet filters,Second Life,VSTE — mepada @ 9:47 pm
Tonight I (well, Mane Sideways) attended this presentation, which proved to be an eye-opening experience.

Here are my notes:

Presenter: Craig Cunningham (First Life) “Dewey Jung” (Second Life). He is an educational philosopher and technologist.

Most schools favor some form of filtering.


  • Which words can we type in and which words are “inappropriate”
  • Cuba: Government controlled systems
  • Chicago Public School: A Siren goes off when an “inappropriate ” site is accessed (applies to students and teachers)
  • Schools filter due to CIPA (Children Internet Protection Act, which passed in 2001) I only requires blocking: Child pornography and adult sites.
  • US: Local control – dependent, however the presenter has not seen a School Board making filtering decisions.

Major filtering methods:

  • All words, phrases with the exception of those on the “white list”.
  • All words, phrases on the “black list”.
  • Certain words, phrases, images typed by the user.
  • Ports used for services such as games, email, voice-over, etc.

Great Britain and Australia: Federal Government makes filter decisions.

 Russia: State level makes filter decisions.

Presenter “Dewey Jung” would like to see everything un-blocked! Purpose of education is to educate not restrict. Students should be provided freedom to inquire.

Huge problem with filters:

  • Software determines what content is harmful.
  • They overblock.
  • Only some people may find content unacceptable.
  • School curriculum subjects and valuable information gets blocked.
  • Schools end abdicating their educational responsibilities to corporations.
  • Equity issue: wealthier students go home and access much of the info blocked at their schools (poorer students do not have this choice)
  • If a site is unrecognized the software/tech person bans it.
  • Schools can be open to lawsuits by parents (teachers and admmin can be sued)

What can be done: Teachers’ unions should be pro-active about this issue.

Getting around filters:

  • Some kids are becoming more tech savy and know how to bypass filters.
  • Use
  • Use (YouTube)
  • Right click on an image and copy/paste url intothe browser
  • Use mobile versions of Fb or MySpace
  • etc.
  1. There is a disconnect between principals and students.
    Our schools are not preparing our students for the 21st Century.
  2. Presenter agrees we should block pornography but not social networking sites.
     “In a playful context kids seem to have and almost infinite capacity for learning”
    “Better theories of learning are embedded in the the video games…than in the classroom”
  3. The National Research Council makes an analogy between swimming and the internet (and its apps): Swimming pools are dangerous to children. We can put up fences and locks and these help but by far the most important thing we can do is teaching them to swim 🙂
  4. We should aim to:
    Create a climate of trust
    Accept that students will make mistakes
    Build a “Walled Garden” (social media) with teacher supervision

Pics of the event:


  1. Very interesting notes. Thanks for sharing them. I find the filter issue very interesting as I do not know much about how decisions are made within school divisions as to what should be filtered and what is “acceptable.” In the last school division I taught in the Computer Resource Specialist within the building could call the central office and have any site blocked from their builiding, so it appeared that some decisions were made at the building level and were subjective to what that person thought should be blocked. I agree that there needs to be some filter system, there is a problem when I cannot google Sussex, Virginia because it has the word sex in it! I also wonder if in our efforts to revise curriculum and look at what our students need for the 21st century if we should be offering a technology tools type class that is considered a core class to teach these types of skills to our students. Technical and usage skills as well as ethical usage and internet social manners.

    Comment by Sherry Joiner — February 16, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  2. It is ironic that we censor kids in the US while teaching them about the first amendment. I am much more worried about what won’t be learned than some occasional smut. When I taught high school in California, our seniors were doing their major projects on human rights as web pages. They were doing Internet research along with book and periodical research. As the projects dealt with issues ranging from Neo-Nazism, the My Lai Massacre, Driving While Black, and the Chiapas Uprisings, many pertinent pages were blocked out. We had to call in to the SBO and give each site to be unblocked letter by letter. Many teachers won’t bother with this trouble. The potential learning is lost.

    Comment by Steve Coxon — February 16, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

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