Internet Filtering, Intellectual Freedom, & Your School Librarian


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Created for MSLIS "Information Technologies in Educational Organizations," this slide show explores the importance of school librarians to creating effective policies and learning opportunities for all students in online, participatory environments.

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Internet Filtering, Intellectual Freedom, & Your School Librarian

  1. 1. + Intellectual Freedom & Internet Filtering How your School Librarian can help. CC Image courtesy of P. Manker By Kate Gukeisen Kate is a Library and Information Science student at Syracuse University who has a passion for people, a love of life-long learning, and an aversion to quiet. The images in this presentation are either the original work of the author, licensed for use under Creative Commons via Flikr (where noted), or are used under the Fair Use Doctrine as codified in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.
  2. 2. CC Image courtesy of T. Galvez + Who is responsible for Intellectual Freedom? I am. You are. We all are.
  3. 3. + Are you looking for a simple, onesize-fits-all, black-and-white answer about Internet filtering & Intellectual Freedom? There isn’t one. But that’s OK. With the help of your school librarian, you can figure out what is best for your students, your school, and your community.
  4. 4. + Before we start, isn’t there a law that tells me that I have to filter content in my school? Yes and no. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) does impose requirements for Internet safety policies and technology protection measures, including using Internet filters, in schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access and connections through the E-rate program. Even within those requirements, though, you still have control over many of the specifics of the policy you advocate for and help to create.
  5. 5. + What is CIPA exactly? The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (2008) adds an additional requirement to CIPA that minors receive education about appropriate online behavior. The Children’s Internet Protection Act, enacted by congress in 2000, addressed concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. Your school librarian can help with that, too. Schools that receive discounts (called E-rate funding) for Internet access and connections are required under CIPA to create and adopt an internet safety policy that addresses: • Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communication; • Unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; • Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors, and • Measures designed to restrict minors’ access to material harmful to minors. CC Image courtesy of S. McLeod via Flikr You can learn more about CIPA at CIPA technology protection measures include blocking or filtering Internet access to pictures that are: obscene; child pornography; or harmful to minors.
  6. 6. + So, why should I go to my school librarian for help? Great question! Because your school librarian is an information specialist as well as an educator. Your school librarian can: • Help you do research about requirements and allowances • Assist you in creating policies that support and align with your curriculum • Plan and collaborate to provide professional development so that your whole school has the information they need to make decisions about the appropriate use of technology in their classrooms
  7. 7. + I’ve also heard that librarians are advocates for Intellectual Freedom. What does that mean in school libraries? Those libraries with a mission that includes service to minors should make available a full range of information necessary for young people to become thinking adults and part of the informed electorate envisioned in the Constitution. The opportunity to participate responsibly in the digital arena is also vital for nurturing the information literacy skills demanded today. Librarians need to remember that minors also possess First Amendment rights. Although parents and legal guardians have the right to restrict their children’s access to digital resources, federal and state legislation as well as institutions’ policies also impact minors’ access to digital information. Libraries should extend as much access as permitted under the law. -The American Library Association’s Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  8. 8. + What is Equity of Access? Equity of access means that all people have the information they need-regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, inc ome, physical limitations or geographic barriers. Equity of Access is important to librarians, students, and communities. It means they are able to obtain information in a variety of formatselectronic, as well as print. It also means they are free to exercise their right to know without fear of censorship or reprisal. From the American Library Association’s Equity of Access statement found at You can learn more about the American Library Association at Equity of Access helps to ensure that students have experience using technology they may not have access to at home and that they are able to access information from diverse viewpoints.
  9. 9. + Let’s get to some questions that will help us figure out what’s best for our students, our school, and our community. • What are we trying to protect students from? • Which students are we trying to protect? • Who, or what, will we let decide what content is appropriate and inappropriate? • How will students benefit from our decisions?
  10. 10. + First Question What are we trying to protect students from?
  11. 11. + Do we play it safe and block the “good” with the “bad?” SparkNotes can be a helpful homework aid, or it can be used to avoid reading assignments. YouTube has inappropriate content as well as educational content. What are we trying to protect students from? Inappropriate Content
  12. 12. + Are we keeping our students safe or limiting their learning? KerPoof and Glogster EDU are both educational websites that foster creativity. They are also collaborative Web 2.0 Tools, which means they sometimes get blocked by filters as “Social Networking” sites. What are we trying to protect students from? Social Networking
  13. 13. + Are we teaching students to make wise decisions on their own? Students need instruction and practice evaluating and analyzing the credibility of websites and other digital and print media. Today’s students are constantly bombarded with media outside of school. We should be teaching them the skills to decode and analyze media in school. CC Image courtesy of M. Szpakowski What are we trying to protect students from? Information that is not credible
  14. 14. + Students need opportunities to practice safe, legal, and ethical online behavior. CC Image courtesy of S. Wu CC Image courtesy of G. Jones If we don’t provide learning opportunities geared toward digital citizenship, where will students learn to interact responsibly with each other? Students need opportunities to practice being members of our participatory learning culture. What are we trying to protect students from? Online bullying
  15. 15. + Second Question Which students are we trying to protect?
  16. 16. One size does + NOT fit all. CC Image courtesy of S. Chang Different students have different information needs. What is appropriate for high school students to access is not necessarily appropriate for younger students. CC Image courtesy of J. Monday Your school librarian can help assess the appropriateness of a collaborative learning tool or website for a particular grade level. Your school librarian can also help inform the creation of policies and practices that target student maturity, grade-level skills, and educational needs. CC Image courtesy of A. Thomas CC Image courtesy of T. Galvez
  17. 17. + Don’t you want to keep students safe from inappropriate content? Sure. But is blocking anything that doesn’t make it through an internet filter the best way to do that? Students should have the opportunity to learn how to evaluate, analyze, and assess the authenticity and credibility of websites using their own skills. Providing students opportunities to explore topics online in a supervised school environment is a great way to give them practice doing this. Providing students opportunities to explore social networks and practice good digital citizenship online within a controlled classroom or library environment is also important. This is not an all-or-nothing proposition. School librarians and teachers are in a position to offer our students these vital educational experiences to build 21st Century Skills in online environments that are more protected for younger students, and increasingly less restricted for older students who have more practice engaging their evaluative and critical thinking skills. CC Image courtesy of W. Fryer on Flikr I want students to have access to collaborative tools that will allow them to practice evaluating the credibility of the information they encounter and engaging in social learning networks as responsible digital citizens.
  18. 18. + Third Question Who, or what, are we relying on to decide what content is appropriate?
  19. 19. + It is important that we do not remove educational experts from the process of deciding what content is allowed and is not allowed for different students at your school. Involve your educational experts, including your school librarian, in planning your school’s Internet Safety Policy and Technology Protection Measures. Give your educational experts the authority to make informed decisions about overriding internet filters. Who, or what, are we relying on to decide what content is appropriate? An educational expert like a librarian, teacher, or school administrator? A computer algorithm?
  20. 20. + What can school librarians do? CC Image courtesy of P. Manker Review & update acceptable use policies. Advocate for over-ride rights for educators. Offer professional development focused on evaluating websites & content.
  21. 21. + Last Question How will students benefit from all this?
  22. 22. CC Image courtesy of Knowledge Without Boundaries + How will students benefit from all of this? Students will have the ability to engage in authentic inquiry. Students will have opportunities to practice critical thinking and evaluation skills. Students will gain practice engaging in civil discourse and digital citizenship.
  23. 23. + Let your school librarian help you create and implement policies that will not only keep your students safe at school, but will provide a learning environment in which your students develop the 21st Century skills they need to safely and successful navigate our participatory culture. CC Image courtesy of T. Galvez CC Image courtesy of L. Ribeiro