The Only Things Filters Stop Are The Teachers.

My county is sending a team of educators to Alan November’s Building Learning Communities 09 conference next week in Boston, Massachusetts,  USA. The team consists of administrators, Instructional Coaches, Classroom Teachers, Gifted Resource Teachers and Media Center Specialists. We’ve met twice now to talk about how to open our experience to our folks back home.

This week, most of us are involved in the Edustat conference. We have people from all over the US AND some from India here. Most have been amazed we have Twitter open in our district–and that we have assigned Tweeters and bloggers for the conference. Many have expressed astonishment that they can get to social networking sites that are blocked in their district.

I read the title of this blog on Twitter last week and it floored me. . . it’s so simple, so true, but not recognized by IT folks in many school systems.  I’m just glad our “people in charge” believe in teachers learning this stuff as well. We have been encouraged to tweet.  We have been recruited to both blog and tweet about our experiences at Edustat.  Some of us, including our Sup’t, have been able to invite people we tweet with to the conference. MANY of our administrators are now on Twitter, and at least 20-30 people from our county have joined Twitter (or become more active) in the past few days, due to our Sup’t raving about her use.  The hashtag “edustat” has been extremely active on Twitter!

We have had people from as far away as Australia watching our live streams, and that has blown our IT guys away. We’ve had people who are not here adding to the #edustat stream with info they are seeing and thoughts they are having. It’s truly been an eye-opening experience for many of our administrators because they had no clue a social networking site could be this helpful or educational. Our administrators are now talking about cell phones in school (after learning about  They’re talking backchannels and how to get tweetdeck on their machines. Our instructional coaches have jumped into tweeting. People are using twitter to find each other here.


while in many school systems, the filters keep out teachers. . .


in Albemarle County

our leaders open filters


teach the adults

what the kids (in many cases) already know.

A wordle made from the tweets on day 2 of Edustat 09.

Edustat Twitter Words Day 2

6 thoughts on “The Only Things Filters Stop Are The Teachers.

  1. I’m envious of your situation.

    Ironically, the amount of technology we have seems to have had a negative impact on the openness of our network.

  2. This morning, I helped our former superintendent get on Twitter as well. I have watched our principals interact with visiting tweeters @JonBecker (professor at VCU) and @csratliff (Chad Ratliff from VT) about entrepreneurship, and possibilities for kids in the business world. I have seen our leaders tweet out things like “anyone know how to get Tweetdeck?” We’ve had folks here (admins included) ask to open Facebook (we haven’t, however.)

    I realize I am VERY lucky to have school board members sitting in this conference learning (see a previous post about school boards), and EXTREMELY blessed to have thinking leaders!

    Thanks, Tom for your response–it’s all about the leadership–and their experiences, too.

  3. I can’t see how any other approach makes sense, given what we want students to know. And what becomes immediately visible when you take down the filters is how much must be learned re digital footprints, cyber-civility, evauating online information….
    It has to do with students taking responsibility for their life online.
    Having said that, I am strongly in favor of
    1. Google Custom searches (and having students make them), pointers to safer image sites, use of tools like flickrstorm’s “tray” to narrow down selections, to serve efficiency – and then letting students make learning paths, so that they get the chance to improve efficiency, exercise choice, etc.
    2. Filters for the very young, because unwanted exposure to pornography is harmful to them, and is defined as assault by some sexual assault resource agencies. School systems, as communities, get to decide how they define “very young”.

  4. Great points! I need some time with you so you can help me think through some issues with both custom searches and the image tray.

    It IS all about students taking responsibility and having opportunities to learn how to be responsible–that’s our leaders’ viewpoint on opening much of what is asked for. You have to have opportunities to be responsible and you can’t if you never get a chance to make a mistake.

  5. The idea of a age-based sliding scale of security makes sense, as does the idea of teachers playing a major role in determining that scale with the input, but not under the control of, the department of technology.

    We’re not doing either.

  6. Your posts are always full of useful information making it so much easier for people to understand the topics discussed in your blog. Thank you for sharing.

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