I get the chance every month to spend some time with a group of technology integration specialists – you know, those people who find cool tools and things for teachers to use that increase student learning. Of course, much of the coolest and most useful stuff ends up being blocked by local internet filters. So there’s a constant conversation within this group about the pros and cons of filtering software.

And while there are legitimate reasons (legal, technical and cultural) for filtering software systems, I’m all about finding ways to increase access for students rather than limiting it.

So it was encouraging to read Mike Hasley’s post about a more progressive view of student access. Mike quotes some stuff from Will Richardson that compares traditional AUPs of the “Don’t do” variety as opposed to those that spend time listing “Do do’s.” As in

  • Do use our network to connect to other students and adults who share your passions with whom you can learn.
  • Do use our network to publish your best work in text and multimedia for a global audience.


Mike also links to Bud the Teacher who, as a district tech leader, has opened up his filter a bit and is encountering teachers who now want him to block resources that they claim are “distractions in the classroom.” The full version is a must read but his short response?

What we’ve decided is that we will no longer use the web filter as a classroom management tool. Blocking one distraction doesn’t solve the problem of students off task – it just encourages them to find another site to distract them. Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem.

This opens up possibilities for students and staff using websites for instructional purposes that in the past were blocked due to broad category blocks.  It requires that staff and students manage their technology use rather than relying on a third party solution that can never do the job of replacing teachers monitoring students.

Don’t ya just wanna hug him?

Here’s the idea. Let’s start using technology the same way we used to use paper and pencil – as an everyday tool necessary for learning. We used to train (and probably still do in some places!) kids how to correctly hold a pencil, how to write in cursive, how to put a proper header on an assignment, even how to empty the pencil sharpener.

It’s hard to picture how I might teach a history course in the 21st century without online resources and tools. I’d be cheating my kids.

So . . . yes, teachers now need to show kids how to tag, how to comment, how to filter resources, how social networks are used appropriately and even how to play video games.

It’s time to get rid of Don’t Dos and start using a few more positive presuppositions.