Recently, Ambookgeek and I have been attempting to teach the kiddies about RSS readers, specifically Bloglines. I am a Google Reader user so I have been trying to familiarize my self with the Bloglines set up. We were so excited about having teachers who are interested in using this technology until we faced technical difficulties. Mainly, the fact that the site is blocked.
I am really not a fan of filters. First, you order these applications from companies and they are so secretive as to what their list of words are that are used to block sites. Second, it blocks things that are important, like medical and health sites. Third, they just hinder things more than "protect" children. For example, last year, one of the projects the kids had was to look for propaganda images. One of our students decided he would focus on cigarettes and decided to look up Joe Camel. One of the images that came up was (in the word of Michael K.) a peen! And other bits and pieces. Ok! So much for filtering. But to end that story, of course, the kid decides that it would be appropriate to show me. He had a good laugh and then we had the particular image blocked from the school server.
Filters do not really work and I think they are a waste of time.
Returning to the technical difficulties of today, for 2 days we tried to conduct a lesson on RSS aggregators for the journalism class and Ambookgeek tested to see if the students could access the site prior to the lessons. Each time he was able to access the site. But the second we need to demonstrate in class and walk the kids through the steps, they have been blocked. It is so frustrating. We want to be able to use these amazing tools that can help our students and enhance our teaching and it seems that time and time again, there are obstacles. These obstacles seem easily remedied but it is never that easy, is it?
On a positive note, at least we are learning to be pretty flexible and do not let these difficulties get in the way of a good lesson. Though how embarrassing is it when you start a lesson that you are excited about and then it does not work? Yikes!