Internet censorship harms schools

MItch Wagner sez, "I've done a series of blog posts on the subject of how Internet censorship harms American schools, based on conversations with Craig Cunningham, an associate professor, in the Technology in Education Program at National-Louis University. The latest is 'How Internet censorship harms schools.' Readers asked for examples of how heavy-handed Internet filtering software hurts education. Here are a few, with pointers to more."

The Canadian National History Society was forced to change the name of its magazine, The Beaver, founded in 1920, because the name of the magazine caused it to be blocked by Internet filters.

One teacher wanted to show students some pictures that would illustrate the effects of atomic testing. "However when I went to bring the Wikipedia page up at school during class, it was blocked by our internet filter, BESS. The name of the islands? 'Bikini Atoll,'" said Doug Johnson, quoting the teacher. Johnson, a director of media and technology at a Minnesota school district, put out a call in July for stories about how Internet filtering hobbles education, and got an earful. ("Censorship by Omission")

Johnson also shares a message from another teacher, describing how a school's systems security manager decided to block the social bookmarking site The reason? You can use the site to search for porn.

Other blockages include Melville's Moby-Dick.

Every time I give a school talk, I ask teachers and students for examples of how blocking harms their education, and every teacher has a list of problems a mile long — horror stories about setting up a lesson plan in the morning with links to videos and web-sites, only to discover by the afternoon that key URLs have been erroneously blocked.

And yet, every group of students I speak to has no problem coming up with ways to evade censorware. Which means that we're not stopping kids from doing naughty things — just driving them to keep their network activity hidden from the educators who are supposed to be helping them navigate the information age, while confounding their teachers' ability to use legitimate materials in the classroom.

How Internet censorship harms schools
(Thanks, Mitch!)