Technology FAQs

June 20, 2009
Q: Updated Technology Policies
I am really enjoying learning how to use various Web 2.0 tools and am always excited to try new tools in the classroom. However, I run into many obstacles when I go into school and am logged into the district network. Many of the newer tools are blocked (or barracuda'd as we say because of the Barracuda Filter). Some days they might work but I can never depend on them. Even TeacherTube is blocked at school! It's really frustrating when I work on setting something up at home but go into school the next day to learn that it's blocked.

It is very frustrating at times because I want to implement new tools and continue to be in contact with our technology specialists but there is only so much that I can do! I have been led to believe that our technology policies are being rewritten, including our Acceptable Use Policy for both students and staff. Has anyone else encountered such obstacles and if so, what have you done to cope and overcome these obstacles?


Janell -
First thing — your wiki looks fabulous! (Not a suprise!) From what I am reading, many of us share this headache. I think persistence is the key. I'm generally a nice person, but after a while of this type of craziness, I continue to document and email and call and most of all beg, till they can't take it anymore… :) I remember you said you were providing some tech training to the teachers in your school over the summer, maybe you can bring it up with them and see if you can get their buy in. If more and more teachers start using these tools and start pushing for access, maybe you can all agree on a list of sites that will be used and should be accessible at all times. Good luck!


I feel you! I too have had the same headaches! I seriously bugged our Technology Coordinator until he had the techies let me have access. I had to really push to get some things like Teachertube "unlocked". I gave him the reasoning that our students and their parents sign an Internet user agreement. After telling him about how I was going to use it in the classroom, he let us have access to it. There is someone higher up-above that can always give you access. You just have to find that person and BUG them!


I agree with Gina. I am one step below "that person" and I bug him constantly! I think I almost have him broken to the point that if I ask, he just might allow without a major interrogation! :-)

Being a 6th grade teacher as well as a mom, I understand the Districts policies, just get REALLY frustrated with their lack of knowledge, or more accurately lack of investigation to tools that are blocked. I have been able to get some sites temporarily opened just for me (Wilkes moodle was blocked until I explained it was part of my Tech masters program!) as well as put forth well thought out arguments to get sites such as Teachertube unlocked. Just hang in there and be persistent!



I too, understand the district policies, but am frustrated that useful web 2.0 sites are blocked. In taking these courses, I am discovering just what is available to inspire my teaching and my kids, so with the last course, I bugged my tech supervisor to help me wiki and blog with my kids. I put together a parent letter explaining wikis and blogs and what my purpose was in using them with the kids and included a permission slip. Everything dovetailed with the district acceptable use policy that the kids signed at the beginning of the year. I kept the tech supervisor and my principal in the loop and they were able to see exactly what we were doing. I encouraged the kids to show the wiki to their parents. The key to being able to use these sites is to show their educational relevance - at least with my district, so I will keep bugging and adding new tools as I am able.

~ Kate

I can relate! It is very frustrating to discover all the new and exciting things the web has to offer to teachers and then to run in to one road block after another. Sometimes I feel like I am running hurdles and just when you think you have jumped over the tallest one there comes another just around the corner! I can understand a districts rules in keeping our children safe but as you said, we have them all sign Acceptable Use Policies. Plus the key here is to keeping everyone in the loop. Parents, administrators, everyone. If access is open to them and they can see what is happening there shouldn't be so many questions. I hope we all find a way to make it easier and share those ideas! One tech person's greatest fear is that we are opening the gates of hell so to speak. If we let anyone come in how do we keep the bad guys out? It is a conundrum!

It is almost depressing how many of us are faced with the same types of issues when the rest of the world is trying so desperately to break into the 21st century! It is especially scary when we consider the fact that we are the ones responsible for preparing these kids for the future - a future which demands technology skills - and yet we are not given the reins to properly tdo our job. Our new technology coordinator is definitely more realistic than our last one, but in many respects her hands are tied as well. I have seen some good suggestions and I think some of them are workable - and at the very least are a great place to start. Friendly-type "harrassment", finding examples they can't ignore, and it certainly doesn't hurt if you have a school board member who is workable. Our district also has an "internet use policy". I know WHY we have it but considering that everything is blocked I can't imagine why they bother with it. I have also been told that if we need to work around a block we need to ask the kids. I have had a couple internet safety trainings lately and I was amazed at how many sites are out there solely for the purpose of helping people get around the blocks. Crazy! I suppose it is the challenge of it that makes them create these sites. Oh, well. Good luck! - D

I run into many of the same problems. I learn about all these great sites and test them out at home and then go into my classroom to find out they are blocked. It get very frustrating. However, in my district I do see some light at the end of the tunnel. My superintendent just annonced at the end of this school year that the district is in the process of exploring web 2.0 tools (sites like delicious, voice threads, even looking into a Moodle at the high school level.) My superintednent is new (3rd year) and he is really pushing technology. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that district is heading in the right direction. I guess I just have to be patient for now!


I'd like to see how the Acceptable Use Policies are changed. Will it be better or worse? I'm pretty certain the students don't read the policies, just sign them at the bottom (just like reading the rules in the handbook)! As we have spoken about before, I'm equally as frustrated as you are about this issue. Perhaps if a certain someone would retire like he was supposed to, we might stand a better chance of getting the changes we need.


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