As I sit here in China and try to access several of my educational website that will not load, I thought about our COETAIL course and the impacts of censorship both on a country and classroom level.
Rebbeca MacKinnon as an pretty thought provoking ted talk discussing the internet and who is responsible for policing the internet on a global scale. She claims the main question society needs to answer is:How do we make sure that the internet evolves in an an citizen centric manner? She claims technology is to improve our lives not to manipulate or enslave us.
She wants the public to ensure they are in control of the internet. Clearly that is not the case here in China.
But is that the case in my classroom? By controlling what the students can and cannot look at does that manipulate them or enslave them to only look at the websites that I deem will improve their learning with regards to my lesson content?
At our school we have a program called DyKnow which helps teachers to monitor what the students are doing on their computers. It can also choose which sites the students can look at, if students are not using their computers in a way that the teacher deems acceptable or on task then she/he can take over the computer, even shut the computer off.
There was a very diverse response both from the students and the teachers regarding the benefits of this program. I will not go into the details of both sides but clearly, some teachers thought it was worth while to have this program and others will most likely not use it.
Personally, I use it for the capabilities to make the student/teacher relationship with technology easier. Dyknow allows students to hand in assignments simultaneously directly to a file on my computer. We can have classes poll on students understanding or opinion of a topic, students can share what they have discovered about an issue by broadcasting a website from their own desk. This enhances the uses of technology in my classroom which I believe benefits the students and does make things easier- not enslaving.
Linking this back to an acceptable use policy and the ted talk I viewed. I do see similarity between a country, like China, having censorship over the internet and how as a teacher I do not want to have a strict limit to what the students can view using their computers. It is my hope that the lessons are engaging for the students so they will not be playing video games or on social media sites during a class activity involving computers. Perhaps I am a bit naive but the alternative is a situation which I am facing right now, someone not trusting that I will be using the internet in a way that is “acceptable”
Leaving me to question why should governments be so concerned with that their people are viewing. Information changes the world- people need information to make the world a better place. Technology allows us to do it!