Saturday, July 11, 2009

Harvard doctoral student argues against filters, for complete Internet ethics education

Justin Reich, a doctoral student at Harvard University School of Education, has an interesting op-ed in the July 11 Washington Post, “In Schools, a Firewall that Works too Well.” Reich argues that Internet filters in schools keep out valuable material and that students and teachers alike become cynical in trying to get around them. He says that there is no substitute for a complete program of Internet and technology citizenship education in the schools, including all topics like copyright and reputation, as well the more “obvious” problems about pornography or supposed “adult” or “harmful to minors” content.

He does point out the downside of the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000, under which "any school or library that uses federal funds to buy computers is required to install Internet filters." This is old hat now.

The link for the op-ed is here. Reuch is co-director of Ed Tech Teacher, here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Public schools should teach responsible Internet use at home; this would help protect minors

Recently, Electronic Frontier Foundation put together a copyright education course for schools, which I discussed on my main blog on June 12, 2009.

However, it seems that public schools should gear up to teach responsible computer and technology use, and even ought to include the curricula as part of standards of learning, such as Virginia’s SOL’s.

Besides copyright, students should learn about defamation, privacy invasion, harassment and cyberbullying, and even some idea of what trademarks and patents mean.

While schools should teach the legal risks of “sexting” on cell phones and other devices, states should remove the practice from felony prosecutions and should not treat incidental occasions as “child pornography” or as a reason for sex offender registration. States need to change their criminal codes appropriately.

A broad inclusion of the legal responsibilities associated with technology use would help protect minors from inappropriate materials at home, including not just pornography, but other activities including bullying and responding to inappropriate contacts from chat or instant messages.

If (and more likely when) I return to formal employment, helping school systems deal with these issues could he high on the list of my own goals.