To shed some light on why schools ban some web tools in school, I am sharing with you the five reasons Unmasking The Digital Truth covered in their wiki. We spent some time going through each reason and they really contain a treasure trove of information and links to some good reads.
In the United States, schools and libraries receiving federal E-Rate funding are required to provide a basic level of content filtering for their organizational users accessing the Internet. E-Rate was established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Childrens Internet Protection Act (CIPA) took effect in 2000. Whether or not an organization is in the United States and is bound by E-Rate requirements and CIPA, content filtering is often used in schools to restrict user access to specific websites or entire categories of websites…..
In December 2006 amendments were added to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) in the United States which mandate email archiving in some circumstances for school districts. The intent of the law was to provide documentation of network abuse and misuse. Specifically, the law was intended to prevent the intentional destruction of documents relating to ongoing litigation. The Enron debacle highlighted the need for electronic documents to be preserved for use in legal proceedings. According to e-Discovery laws, school districts should and must according to the law make good faith efforts to archive electronic communications on the district’s email server. Districts are NOT required to archive every outbound packet of data which is created by students, teachers, and other district staff members in-district…..
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) relates to student privacy rights for student records controlled by educational institutions.FERPA requires schools and school officials maintain confidential control over student records……
Some school administrators claim insufficient bandwidth is available on the school network to accomodate the use of specific web 2.0 sites or other software programs, including videoconferencing software/hardware like Skype….
In many schools, student and staff discipline issues are handled in a unique way when it comes to Internet access. Rather than making rules and expecting people to be responsible and follow them, and punishing those who violate the rules– when it comes to Internet access many school officials (counseled by network administrators) take the opposite approach. Rules are created and everyone is expected to violate them, therefore EVERYONE is punished by having access to broad categories of websites blocked (like blogs and wikis.) See the references to work by Scott McCleod for sources on this line of thinking….
Some school administrators cite LIABILITY concerns as the reason interactive websites and software tools are blocked and not permitted on district computers and networks. Students might encounter an Internet predator. Students might encounter objectionable content, and a parent complaint might lead to a lawsuit. It is safer to block all these dangerous websites and software programs than let students and staff use them….
Some school administrators cite FEAR (directly or indirectly) as the reason interactive websites and software tools are blocked and not permitted on district computers and networks. Internet predators are lurking everywhere on the Internet. Students just use websites like YouTube to watch and post schoolyard fight videos. Mandated testing doesn’t require the use of digital resources, so why should schools change and embrace them? So much is unknown, it is just better to strive to maintain the status quo rather than embrace nebulous and messy alternatives involving digital technologies.