There's an article in Secondary Education that might be worth a read.
Sec Ed 11th February 2010
Today, Ofsted released their report based on an e-safety survey that they ran last year in 35 primary and secondary schools. .
The report recommends the use of ‘managed’ systems instead of locked down systems. One of the key findings reads:
“Pupils in the schools that had ‘managed’ systems had a better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe than those in schools with ‘locked down’ systems. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves.”
One recommendation made reads:
“The DCSF, in conjunction with Becta, CEOP and local authorities should…Encourage and support schools to move from locked down to managed systems.”
Note that it says ‘encourage and support’ so while not mandatory it is recommended by Ofsted.
BBC summary: BBC News - Pupils 'must manage online risks'
Full report from Ofsted (I recommend you read it all)
The safe use of new technologies / Thematic reports / Documents by type / Browse all by / Publications and research / Ofsted home / Ofsted - Ofsted
I also like this where a school through fire got up and running through the use of facebook.
The school they couldn't kill ? 'We are Campsmount'
mb2k01 (11th February 2010)
Just to give a bit more background as most replies have been kindly detailed...
We are considering changing our (largely inheritted) approach to filtering of Social Networking Sites, and were/are interested to hear from others having taken similar paths.
I would rate my personal opinion as somewhere between neutral and positive.
I can see the sense in considering unblocking, as education isn't gained from preventing experience.
It also makes no sense that while we block access so tightly at school, we all largely accept that the majority of students go straight home and use the sites - largely safely and sensibly.
Having controlled access in school at appropriate times would allow for education and an element of monitoring, as well as a cultivation of more mature use of what could be a useful resource.
Going that way would obviously bring challenges, but only time would tell if the rewards were worth the effort.
[edit - thanks to the previous two posters and your links - both demonstrating similar thinking and highlighting positive reports]
Last edited by mb2k01; 11th February 2010 at 10:38 PM.
At my last school (secondary level), Facebook had never been blocked. I was there when Facebook membership was opened up and its use started to become prevalent. The decision was taken that the school would rather monitor and educate than block. This stance is now being borne out by the recent Ofsted talk about managing online risks rather than locking everything down.
In my own experience, our 'watch-and-learn' culture meant we were able to log and catch several instances of cyber-bullying that would still otherwise have occurred in the same medium, but out of school hours where we would never have caught it. It's not a reason to unblock on it's own, but it's worth thinking about.
mb2k01 (12th February 2010)
We have written a basic social networking element into our VLE. All externally hosted ones are blocked by the LEA.
At the end of the day you as a school have no control over what is posted and what materials the pupils/staff are subjected to by themselves or others on the website so I'd see it as largely irresponsible to allow pupils to use the sites. You cant really supervise what's going on and the 'what if...' scenarios would put legal responsibility of anything that happens as a result of you encouraging them to use it right at the schools door.
Far better to have an internal VLE style social network IMO where you can control/view all content to keep the pupils safe. You dont need to let pupils put themselves at risk to teach them about the dangers of the internet and social networking.
Last edited by flyinghaggis; 15th February 2010 at 10:30 AM.
mb2k01 (15th February 2010)
Currently a school who blocks access to a social network has no control, no supervision and no say in how it is used. If a pupil runs in to difficulty it will largely go un-noticed and unreported.
If controlled access was available in school then an element of monitoring, education and advice can take place. With technologies like Smoothwall and Securis (for example), schools can be confident that while access is enabled, pupils remain protected.
I would argue that a "what if" scenario was much LESS likely to happen in the above scenario - and if one did, the school would be best placed to action some form of intervention.
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