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Website Filtering: An Evaluation of Local Education Agencies

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alan Michael Warren (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/
Advisor
Paul Wallace

Abstract: The idea of generating 21st century skills, which is an initiative for technology enhancement and global awareness, in a rapidly growing environment is challenging society with its sudden onset. As a result of this movement current and future students have a greater likelihood of possessing multiple jobs or careers that will require various skills and abilities. To provide students the best education possible, educators need to look at the barriers that are affecting technology use with the curriculum. Use of Web 2.0 tools, handheld devices, and other emerging technologies constantly in the midst of society forces technology directors to maintain a vision of persistent change. One social issue currently affecting students is access to technology through the use of Internet resources. Some school districts implement tiered access to teachers (less limitations) and students (full limitations). Teachers who have access to tiered networks possess the ability to create a teacher driven learning environment without forfeiting mandated student protections. With tiered access, teachers utilize tools that would otherwise be considered inappropriate for use by minors to create valid educational resources. Technology directors are provided many laws, doctrines, and resources at their disposal to help prevent access to inappropriate material from adults and students including the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), E-Rate (provides federal funding to local education agencies), Internet Safety Policies, Negligence, “In Loco Parentis,” and “Local Decision.” All of these laws, doctrines, and requirements are interpreted by the director of technology, or other authority in which he/she makes the final decision on availability to students. In most cases the technology director will make the day to day decisions regarding sources to be accessed at school. This study, consisting of surveys from twenty-one school systems and interviews of six technology directors, an auditor with the Universal Services Administrative Company, an E-Rate specialist, and a professor, will reflect on CIPA as it relates to the practices of the technology director. Twenty-one technology directors in North Carolina were surveyed, with most of these directors holding degrees in areas other than technology. These are individuals who make the day to day decisions on which technological matter is considered to be educationally sound for students. Technology directors can cite any policy to determine a website invalid but based upon CIPA those policies could be over restrictive. The research gathered for this study suggests that school systems and the state of North Carolina need to address current technology policies and trends to understand or possibly change how technology is implemented to students. The use of a committee to decide if web resources are appropriate, a tiered network that separates staff from student access to allow teachers to drive their instruction, and the implementation of state guidelines would create a uniform system for appropriateness of various technologies in schools. Most schools maintain close to one hundred percent Internet connectivity, and now is the time for school systems to utilize this technology to maximum potential.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Warren, A.M. (2010). Website Filtering: An Evaluation of Local Education Agencies. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2010