Middle School Web Access Report

I’m at school providing tech support for my wife who teaches 7th grade science. We’re trying to connect an Intel Play QX3 USB Microscope (microscopy-uk article) to her classroom computer in order for her to conduct a hay infusion micro-organism experiment. The idea behind the microscope is to quickly show the class some of the protists that they are searching for. Unfortunately, as with many schools, the lockdown on the local computer as well as her own teacher’s computer, prevents the installation of new hardware without an admin override. This protects the computer wonderfully at the cost of learning. To be fair, the computer teacher at the Middle School is the first tier support and he may be able to assist. I’ll update as I find out more.

Since I was unable to help out here, I thought I would take the opportunity to test the Internet access from the classroom. Here are my notes:

  • The school uses St. Bernard as a filtering tool
  • GIFs which pull from Flickr accounts would not display on the computer (the dreaded little red “X” appears instead)
  • del.icio.us is available (which is good as I just set my wife up with an account so that she can share resources with her class. However I couldn’t install the quick link buttons in IE due to admin restrictions)
  • Flickr blocked (web host)
  • PBwiki blocked (web host)
  • Googlepages blocked (web host)
  • Blogspot blocked
  • Wikipedia available
  • My blog is available
  • Picasa seems to be available (as it operates on a different principle (invitation only) from Flickr)
  • G-Mail blocked (E-mail host)
  • Google Docs available
  • SuprGlu available (one way to get around blog blocking and ensure some level of content oversight)
  • Edublogs.org blocked (discussion forums,hobbies/interest – see image below)
Blocking Message

Now the St. Bernard software, as illustrated above, does allow for either an Override (if the educator has such privileges) or an Access Request from the local administrator. I am hoping that Michelle and her fellow teachers have this access and with it the trust of the district that her professionalism will ensure good decision making!

[tags]k12, filter, pedagogy, access, internet, teaching, learning [/tags]

One thought on “Middle School Web Access Report

  1. evil Sch tech admin here :0)

    yes, I agree it is counter productive, sorta kills inspiration/ flow… but why wasn’t the microscope already installed on all machines that could possibly use it?

    If any school had failed that test, the answer would have to be under-resourcing either in manpower or management – something I know is oh so rife still in education.

    Web blocking like that is also limiting granted. Here, we do have an area wide filter that it is possible to hone. Sites that allow unfiltered/ anonymous/ potentially dangerous content are blocked by default – yes – that has to be extremely positive… granted sites proffessing an educational root should be ok. Again though, sub-domains that can in most cases be created can be unfiltered specifically so solving the problem.

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