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2.0 Reality Check: The Next IF Front

Those of you who most need to read this post will not be able to read it at school.

This week was a bit of a wake up call for me.

I traveled to upstate New York to discuss evidence-informed practice and 2.0 tools.  I discovered that for many of the librarians up there, these tools were blocked.

At our countywide edtech meeting this week–attended by classroom teachers, technology integrators, and librarians–we went through our usual what’s new and cool in your school round table discussion. 

We heard a lot about student information systems and new catalogs and the problems teachers experience with new grading software. 

The only people to discuss classroom applications of blogs, and wikis, and digital storytelling, and social networking were representatives from our own district.  When the table presentations were over,  I asked how many other districts supported use these applications for class projects.  Springfield Township was the only one.

The other teachers reported that district filtering decisions are based on fear of litigation.  Filtering decisions are largely made based on advice or warning from district solicitors. Filtering decisions are largely decided on by convenience.  Filtering decisions are often made by non-educators.

We are at a tipping point.  Evidence is building.  Learners are ready to explore, to share with new audiences.  Effective tools, ripe for exploiting in learning, are multiplying. The many blogs we read, the conferences we  attend, the work we discover through social networking, and a growing number of our magazines and journals, point to the fact that these new tools have the potential to recharge learning and teaching.

Historically, librarians have fought a great number of intellectual freedom fights. This is another one that teacher-librarians need to own.  This one is about equity.  This is a big one.  And I believe this one will be a grass-roots effort.

We need to somehow support each other in creating new opportunities and challenges for all learners. We need to share our examples of effective practice with administrators. 

We cannot stop at no.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Joyce,

    I’m sending this link to the BOCES SLMS on my Listserv.

    Like me, many won’t be able to read this at school. I’ll include a message to take a look whenever and wherever they can. It is very important.

    (I contacted the NYS Education Department to get a definitive statement on their student email stance. The message is being “forwarded” to the appropriate personnel. If I ever get an answer, I’ll share it.)

  2. On second thought, I’m pasting this into a Word Document, with hyperlink, so that all of my colleagues will have the chance to read it.

  3. joycevalenza says:

    Thanks for adding your voice to the crusade, Diane! You march with style!!!!

  4. Barb Falkinburg says:

    Indeed this is an issue. We are blocked for almost all blogs – most which are at blog sites. This one is not because it is not at blogspot, but AASL’s blog was. There often does not seem to be a rhyme or reason. We can request that a site be unblocked and several of us have begun submitting sites. But it is a slow process and can be very frustrating. We also sometimes receive the bandwidth issue excuse. Even though we have run a lot of fiber. We are a very large district (Baltimore County -24th largest in the nation) and our bureaucracy is very large and sometimes difficult to navigate.

  5. Right on, Joyce. In our district, we came out with a new AUP this year that explicitly states students will “use 2.0 tools” and cites a few examples. This was an opt out policy, therefore, it is assumed that all students will use these tools. We went into this school year with renewed faith that 21st century pedagogy was informing our policy. Yet, somehow our filters and the “men behind the curtain” who choose what gets unblocked are making decisions with no regard for this policy. This week we lost flickr and librarything. A group of us have decided, among other things, to create a wiki compiling the best practices using 2.0 tools of faculty members at our school as well as a running list of now-unusable tools. Once we’ve compiled a critical mass, we hope to use this as just one bit of evidence in a more formal argument to get our tools back. I hope the tipping point is near.

  6. pollyalida says:

    Thank you Joyce for all you do to push these issues forward! Wish it weren’t so hard for people to get past their fears. Bit by bit, one by one, it will happen. I had two encouraging emails yesterday from school librarians. Both had created new blogs and their administrators got on board when they saw what they’d done. One is now getting the principal set up with a blog. Yay!

  7. This appears to be the issue that your new AASL 2.0 task force needs to address.

  8. joyce valenza says:

    Polly, that’s great news! And, Jan, yes. I am hoping we can work on some sort of statement of support. I welcome all ideas!

  9. I was surprised that no one from Abington was present, because the faculty, librarians and CFF staff are all using wikis and blogs and there is no blocking of wikis, blogs, etc. Like Springfield, Abington teachers have become engaged learners of the 2.0 world and all it offers and the students are the ones who benefit!

  10. ilenegrayev says:

    I posted a response to your Blog…The Next IF Front…last Tuesday but I don’t see it here.
    What happened to it….is it somewhere in cyberspace???
    Love your stuff to bits….

  11. jillmaza commented that she had recently lost access to flickr and librarything. Sometimes the people making these decisions aren’t district employees, but the filtering company itself – which is even worse, IMHO. In my district, we get an updated “block” list from the filtering company each night, so things we have access to one day may be blocked the next.

  12. We’re fighting the good IF fight in WI too. Not just to use web 2.0 tools but to open access to websites for research. We have a new network administrator (no education background) that seems to be on a power trip. Who better to select and open websites for students to use than the highly-trained Teacher Librarian?

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