This weekend here in Hampshire, all of our schools (I think) transferred from the old internet providers, BT to Virgin Media. It was interesting as Monday and Tuesday caused all kinds of filtering issues with Youtube being allowed and Twitter not etc. Interestingly Google+ was also blocked a mere 3/4 days after people got on it! It’s been a dodgy few days but it all looks very promising.
Now prior to this weekend there were 2 1/2 choices for Hampshire schools. They could be on the primary filter, the secondary filter or the 1/2 option is if you knew a bloke who knew someone who could tell you the other filter. We used this one. It gave teachers Youtube, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook but not Google Images. We mainly used it for Youtube and Twitter. Now this back-door way has been closed and we have the choice between primary and secondary.
You might think it is an obvious choice as we are a primary school but we want our children to be able to access things like Google images (now available!) and potentially YouTube too. So we made the change. And the change was good.
Today I taught children for the first-ever time using Google Images. We were making maps to show where food came from e.g. rice, cocoa, coffee and they were able to find images online and link it to their maps. It was great! The only (very minor) issue was when one girl searched for coco instead of cocoa and got some women in bikinis. We’d already discussed what to do if children say inappropriate pictures so she did the right thing. She told me, we searched for something else. Simples.
How long will this be turned on? Who knows. I know there will be schools that complain about Images being available and the fact their children can’t be trusted. These schools will always be the ones with problems. I am a firm believer that it is all about education. My children will go home to a (probably) unfiltered internet connection and will see dodgy things now and again on YouTube and the like, shouldn’t I be teaching them about how to use these sites properly, effectively and safely?
Luckily, from the Autumn term we will have complete control over the websites we allow and block for all children and staff, this is currently a stopgap, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google Images and YouTube to be turned back off.
What does your school do? Do you get Images? YouTube? Would you want them? Or would your school prefer them to stay blocked because it’s safer?
**Edit: I have just had word that Google Images is being switched off tomorrow, 3 days after being turned on, because some schools want it banned. Ridiculous isn’t it? They should be ashamed of themselves. I would happily meet with every one of those schools and tell them they are wrong.