Sunday, September 18, 2011

Internet blocking in schools: not such a good idea, it turns out

Despite being published in 2010, I somehow managed to miss until now these remarkably sensible research findings from Ofsted on internet blocking in schools:
Restricting pupils’ access to websites may actually impair their judgement, making them more “vulnerable” to paedophiles on-line, said Ofsted. The claims come despite an admission that teachers had problems stopping young people logging on to “inappropriate” websites at school. In a report, Ofsted said there were widespread incidents of pupils accessing social networking websites and instant chat rooms – where they can be targeted with abuse. But inspectors said "locked down" systems that barred access to websites were actually "less effective" in keeping children safe overall.
In a particularly good analogy, Ofsted also points out that:
Children who hold a parent’s hand every time they cross the road are safe. However, unless they are taught to cross the road by themselves, they might not learn to do this independently. A child whose use of the internet is closely monitored at school will not necessarily develop the level of understanding required to use new technologies responsibly in other contexts.
There's a lesson here in relation to internet blocking as applied to adults also.

Daily Telegraph story
Full text of Ofsted report

(h/t Joe McNamee, EDRI)