Which Websites Belong in School?

BY LAURA CRAMERStaff Writer

This school year, one surprise for returning students was the absence of Internet filtering from school computers.

For the first half of the 2012-2013 school year, previously blocked sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Wikipedia were all accessible from computers provided by the Lebanon School District.

As of January 29th, social media sites are again blocked, but access to Wikipedia and Youtube remains.

Last year’s filtering system seemed excessive, sure, but this new compromise seems to be the most appropriate solution to the problem of which websites should be allowed on school computers.

Social media sites have no place in the classroom.  Making these sites available to students on school computers is expressly permitting and enabling their use during school time, which is unnecessary and detracts from the learning environment.

While students are permitted to use their own personal devices during lunch time and in the halls, there is no good reason for social media sites to be accessible on school computers.

On the other hand, Wikipedia is often demonized by teachers as inaccurate and prone to vandalism.  But a 2005 study found that information from Wikipedia has approximately the same level of accuracy as information from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

Furthermore, Wikipedia’s citation and linking system make it far easier to find other, related material.

This latest compromise is the most school-appropriate set of filters that has been enacted so far, as it allows access to resources like Wikipedia while blocking social media. Hopefully it stays this way.

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