I'm getting really fed up with my districts web site blocking program

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Sarge, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    They block Facebook, Youtube, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, any car related site, many bicycle related sites, and last, but not least THE DISCUSSION GROUP FOR OUR DISTRICT ADOPTED READING PROGRAM!!!!
     
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  3. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Ooooohhhh yyyessssss. My best friend, the "iPrism Filter" is the bane of my existence. With the amount of stuff they try to block, it might as well just block the entire internet and replace it with a sign that says "Sorry, you might just possibly look at something bad, so we won't let you look at anything."

    ... no, I'm not bitter at all. So hey, look on the bright side... you are not alone in your plight.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    is there any way to request they unblock certain sites you would need??
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    The kids used to be able to bypass some of the blocks and access YouTube; things were tightened up over the summer and that's no longer possible. While I can understand the need for some filters, sometimes I get so frustrated. We need to teach our students to use media intelligently; we can't do that if they can't access it.
     
  6. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Sometimes googling the site you need that's not the site's homepage can allow you to bypass it. It's how I check my yahoo account :rolleyes:
     
  7. mrduck12

    mrduck12 Companion

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    Welcome to my world. Our assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and technology is adamant that ALL social networking and video streaming sites be blocked.

    Nothing to do be done with it.

    The new tech tools we are bringing talk up smart web applications. I can't wait to see how this gets reconciled.
     
  8. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Our district allows teachers to bypass the filter, so if we need to use YouTube or another site, we can. I'm glad our district gives us this option!
     
  9. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

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    Ours blocks the state department of education's website "because it belongs to the category of education." So not playing. I understand the need to block certain things, but why do we even have the internet if you can't even go to the state department's site?
     
  10. Mrs.DLC

    Mrs.DLC Comrade

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    We have many sites blocked. I rarely can check out any mentioned on here for teachers, etc. I wish the email filters worked-I get several messages daily for Viagra, etc., but messages from DOE go to junk mail!!
     
  11. dcalhoun

    dcalhoun Companion

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    We used to do that in school we would go to the UK site, or another country :)
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I once tried to get to a college's homepage and the filters wouldn't let me pass it. Gee, sorry kids, I know you want to register for that wonderful enrichment program given by the University, and I know that you don't have access at home, but you can't register here either, because these filters think that you might see something terrible put out by the local university! UGH, pardon me while I go hurl.


    Sorry, the sarcasm got the better of me today.
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm assuming they will unblock the discussion board you mentioned? Goodness!

    YouTube can be extremely valuable in the classroom. When someone mandates that all [insert type of site] websites are blocked, such as all those that stream video, that's being..."silly".
     
  14. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I have a higher version of Microsoft at home (our school computers are literally from '95). So just download the free update, right? So I can read my files. Of course, the Microsoft site is blocked. Why? Yeah, I just don't get it. Sometimes I think maybe it's the same people making the decisions for technology that do for curriculum,etc. I doubt they've ever actually seen a classroom.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Can you bypass these filters by taking a laptop to school with you?

    I wondered about that more than once during my internship. Our district blocks an ever-increasing number of sites as well. Teachers are able to bypass some of these restrictions, but even that didn't work all the time.

    Example: My CT pulled up some Youtube videos for the class at different times. Sometimes, during planning, I would try to access Youtube so I could listen to music while grading papers or working on lesson plans. Even using the CT's account, I got a weird message saying "this site is no longer compatable with your browser" about half the time. :confused:
     
  16. Hoot Owl

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    Ours blocks everything too. We can send a link to the Computer Guru to request a site be unblocked but it generally doesn't happen.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My school even blocks students from accessing Google in case they search for something naughty. It makes it VERY difficult to assign research papers.
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Teachers can bypass nothing. I'm not sure our tech people know how to bypass anything.

    Any computer plugged in at school gets blocked.
     
  19. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    My district blocks the Glock forum, Ruger forum, Smith & Wesson forum, American Spectator, and National Review ..... not that I would ever visit such sites at school........:rolleyes:
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Most laptops have wireless cards built in and might allow you to access a different different network than the school's - especially in urban areas.

    I also wonder about those 3G sticks from AT&T and other providers. That might be another option, although the admin may not like teachers finding ways to bypass the system.
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Same here. In order to access the internet, be need to connect to the network. Some of our students have tried to connect to a wireless network outside of the school, but there is only one open one that we can pick up a very weak signal from in 2 rooms of the school. All blocks are system-wide; in a board with hundreds of schools and thousands of computers, the principle makes sense--even if it is frustrating.
     
  22. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I could easily come up with perfectly valid educational reasons for a teacher or even a student to need to visit any one of those sites.

    And that's my biggest problem. There's tons of useful educational video on Youtube these days. To really communicate with parents, you probably want to set up a class Facebook page. And I'm sure that the firearms forums to which Major refers contain a wealth of information on gun control for any student writing a paper on the second amendment.

    I think there are two things going on here. First of all, schools have contracted with web security companies like 8e6 Technologies that sell them the same products that are used in call centers to keep telemarketers from playing online games when they're supposed to be working. Then, overworked school tech departments lack the time or the knowledge to actually tweak the settings of these products, so then entire categories get blocked, even if they are perfectly valid from an educational standpoint. Sure, a company might not want it's telemarketers looking at colleges during company time, but in a school setting we actually want kids to be able to go to college websites.

    Then you also have educators who don't think. My district blocks the entire category of "vehicles." I'm sure that came from the mind of some teacher who envisioned all the boys in her class looking at pictures of hot rod cars when they were supposed to be working on their rain forest reports. Of course, never mind the other teacher who is doing a unit on transportation and may actually need to get to those sites. I know this from experience being that unit 3 of our district adopted reading program is called "Things that Go" and every year, I'm prevented from actually teaching the curriculum properly due to our blocking program.

    Then you have Facebook, Myspace, and other "social networking" sites. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea to block those sites at school. The only problem is that Facebook is rapidly becoming the go-to place on the internet in the way that Yahoo did during the 90's. Many legitimate organizations now have Facebook pages as their web sites and many of those organizations serve an educational purpose. For example, it's become common for police departments to have Facebook or Myspace pages and encourage young people to friend them as a means of deterring online predators. Of course, blocking those sites at school defeats that purpose.

    Also, I now have many parents who don't check their email but a few times an week and never when not at work. But they go to their Facebook pages every hour. If I have timely information to give them, it would be useful to have Facebook at school.

    But here's the real danger of having "social networking" sites blocked at school. Suppose a child is threatened by an online bully but doesn't know who it is. That child goes to the principal and tells. Well, there's a very good chance that any sites blocked for students are also blocked for teachers and administrators. I can bet that our principal cannot get around our blocking software any easier than I can. So the principal needs to find out exactly who who threatened the child. The only problem is that he or she can't because they can't access Facebook or Myspace at school. At minimum, school principals need complete and unfettered access to the entire internet while on the job in order to ensure the safety of their students.
     
  23. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Unless your school employs some kind of cellular jamming system, a 3G card would allow complete access. And I don't think that bringing your own 3G laptop to school and using it is anything your school could really do much about. With 3G your are basically using your own cellular service to access the internet.

    Which brings up another point. Any kid with a smartphone or an iPhone (which is very common) and a family who has a data plan, doesn't need the school network in order to access the internet.

    One day, instead of taking your class to the computer lab to do research, we could all be saying "Ok, everybody, take out your iPhones."
     
  24. Ms. I

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    Being a long-term substitute, there are times when I have access to a computer, but I don't take a chance & go on anything "fun", even this board. I've done it before & a full RED screen saying WARNING & some other words quickly pops up!

    But there are some educational sites that can't come up either, which I don't fully understand why.

    Oh well, I can wait a few hrs & then I can be on all the sites I want the whole rest of the night when I get back home. I'm not risking getting into any trouble!
     
  25. lou reed

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    When I was student teaching in Chicago Public schools, restricted sites were accompanied by a red screen and a siren-like whooping noise. It was really obnoxious. I was using google image search to find a picture of cicadas to show to the class and clicked on a picture linked from someone's myspace profile. WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP.
     
  26. Toak

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    well it is incredibly easy to visit any site that is blocked (just access it through a proxy), so I think the only concern you should have is "what happens if I get caught avoiding the filter?"
     
  27. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    I hate all the blocked sites, but I do understand blocking streaming video. My district does not even have enough bandwidth to allow the internet to move at a reasonable rate (my access at home is much faster), and if a bunch of people were streaming video at the same time, access would slow to a crawl. I can't wait until they get enough money to increase our bandwidth.
     
  28. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Sarge, actually my district permits you to visit almost any site except "gunnie" sites. I was just kidding about them not permitting the two magazine sites above.

    My district has no problem with Facebook and those type sites. As a sub I never have any thing to do during "planning" time therefore I visit sports related sites such as NFL, Nascar, and any college football sites plus lots of history sites.

    I really don't get into to Facebook. I simply don't need to know that "Billy is now friends with Bobby" and "Mary wrote on Tyler's Wall."..... :lol::lol: My wife on the other hand lives and breathes Facebook.
     
  29. bros

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    Ah yes, internet blocks.

    Very annoying, but very easy to bypass, at least around here :p
     
  30. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    the thing is, most of the "techie" kids can figure out in about five minutes how to bypass most filters. In my school, these kids are smart and tend to keep the info to themselves.
     
  31. bros

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    Yeah, that is what I did for the first two years of HS.

    Then teachers realized how good I was with computers.

    So they asked me how to bypass the blocks.

    In my district, they didn't care about us bypassing the blocks as long as we didn't do anything obviously illegal (i.e. downloading pornography)

    Hell, one time the tech guys asked me how I found all of the vulnerabilities in their servers.

    This site may work to get past your blocks - https://vtunnel.com
     
  32. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    The only time I've been able to bypass things is when I bring in my own laptop and plug in the ethernet cable into it. Otherwise, we see lots of blocks. We used to use a filter called Bessie. It showed a pic of a cute little dog whenever a site was blocked. No one wants to see a cute little dog when you are pissed! :lol:
     
  33. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    I'm also frustrated with blocking software. I understand it for students, but teachers should have full access. I've seen kids at indoor recess log on to violent video games (which I of course immediately remove them from) but I can't get a You Tube video to show my kids on something instruction related. This is the first year we've been allowed to use google image search and that has made my life soooo much easier.
     
  34. bandnerdtx

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    Bypassing the filter in my district would get you fired. They don't play. They block everything, too.

    It's horribly frustrating when the people making the policies haven't been in the classroom in ages, and certainly never taught in a digital environment. They've reduced our laptops to fancy word processors. They even blocked WIKIPEDIA!

    Our biggest complaint is that the company we use (Lightspeed) supposedly only allows us 5 levels of access: student, teacher, administrator, tech dept., superintendent. We suggested that if we are going to be limited to only 5 (which is ridiculous) that the teacher/admin level be made the same so that teachers can get to everything but porn and gambling and so that there can be a separate level for k-8 and high school students. OH NO. Rather than doing that, they've combined administrators and techies, kept teachers on lock down, and have made 2 levels of students. At least that helps our high school kids a little.

    As for asking for sites to be unblocked... yes, we can do that, but honestly, I don't teach that way. A lot of times, I want/need to access a site right NOW to do research/discuss/explore whatever has come up in the classroom. By the time it gets approved (by people who have NO teaching experience), I'm three lessons down the road.

    Ugh. It's ridiculous. We've spent millions of dollars on technology in our district, and we are light years behind what other districts are doing with much less.
     
  35. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Ahhh, your district blocks by MAC Address (The actual hardware address of the computer's network card), which is why your laptop isn't blocked :p
     
  36. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The teachers have a fair amount of freedom with the web as long as they aren't stupid about it. Students using a school connection, on the other hand, are ridiculously stilted. Thankfully, INFOhio is a wonderful collection of resources they can access. It was tough, though, when I had a pregnant student who would call me for help researching doctors and other things when she couldn't do so on her own.
     
  37. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    My students have tried to show me. I said I didn't want to know.
     
  38. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I can actually see the new iPads replacing planners, notebooks and textbooks in the future. Technology is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Even though the iPads are new now, in 10 years they will be old hat and I can see them being standard equipment.

    When I was in undergraduate school, a buddy of mine was one of the elite few to have a PC in his dorm room (it was a 386. lol). Less than 10 years later, when my cousin went, every student was required to have a PC or laptop in their room.
     
  39. midwestteacher

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    Our blocking systems looks for key words to block. We had issues because I teach a semester long entomology unit and the kids have to learn to id insects. I was making powerpoints of my insect lists and couldn't search for a picture of a cockroach because the filter didn't like the first half of that word. I had to search for pictures at home and email them to myself.
    We used to be able to bypass the filter. You could put in your password and it would be bypassed for 30 minutes. Then they found out that it wouldn't just bypass the filter for your room, but would shut down the filter for the whole district for those 30 minutes. Whoops!
    They also blocked teachers from bypassing the filter when we had a band teacher that would take her kids down to the lab and chat with her friends on Messenger all hour.
    In theory, we can email the administration and ask that a site be unblocked, but I don't think it has ever happened. Maybe the emails get lost in space.
     
  40. Jem

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    My thoughts exactly. With the potential for educational apps, the future is bright!! I'm hoping to get one when they come out and start brainstorming...
     
  41. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    We have filters in the UK. However my city /school allows youtube but the streaming is so poor you are better ripping the video athome then playig it direct from your memory stick. Ours too looks for key words. Try searching for war sites in History and it will block words like 'gun' and 'bomb'. We also have a town in England called 'Scunthorpe' the filter won't allow anything about that town to be shown!
     

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