Educational Development


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Recently I was teaching a group of exchange students from Japan how to blog. The idea was they would keep web journals in English, not only to practice their English communication skills but to keep their families updated. I was aware that the Polytech uses censorware to control student use of the Internet while on campus so, I asked the lead teacher to request a check that both the and were not included in the blacklist that determines censoring. Unfortunately on the day we discovered to be blocked. So I had everyone login as me so we could get going quickly.

I'm now on the hunt for some free and open source filtering software were 100's of users can be given the rights to administer to the blacklist. The way I see it is, in an adult education organisation, if we have to control student use we should think of a couple of options.

1. Are communal computing labs set up well enough so as to be able to manage classrooms effectively without having to censor use. Things like wireless Internet will help us eventually get out of the classrooms, but what about recessed monitor desks, and shared screen software? Recessed monitors may help manage the distraction of the computers in class. They would certainly remove the eye contact barriers between students and teachers and reclaim the use of a desk for more than just supporting a monitor. Shared monitors will give teachers the ability observe monitors take over its display to get attention on particular things.

2. Communal censorship should be the way we head in my opinion if we still think we need to control Internet use for the benefit of communal computer labs. Basically everyone (or all the teachers at least) have the rights to manage the blacklist, helping to block and unblock sites appropriately rather than waiting on the time and decisions of the few. While there may be a few bad apples in the organisation from time to time, it wouldn't be hard to track them down, and I reckon there are a hell of a lot less bad than good people in the organisation. The idea software for this would be something that installs a button or quick link on the browser so that when I came across a URL that should be blocked, I click the button, login, and submit. Likewise if I came across a site that should be unblocked.

So there's my suggestions to better manage censorship at Otago Polytechnic.
What I'm doing now is collecting links to articles and software that may support my proposals.

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