DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006) has been passed by the House of Representatives. Contact your state senators today to educate them about the impact this will have on your students ability to learn through Web 2.0 technologies and your ability to teach them internet safety. Here is a brief summary of the bill:
- Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require schools and libraries that receive universal service support to enforce a policy that prohibits access to a commercial social networking website or chat room.
Here is a copy of a letter I sent to Senators Allard & Salazar:
Please consider carefully the restrictions that DOPA will place on a school's ability to teach students how to be safe on the Internet. Completely removing access to social networking sites in schools will do little to deter students from accessing this information outside of school or even in schools as the knowledge of how to bypass filters seems to flow easily through the students.
This new mode of communication and socialization is here to stay - and students have embraced it. Imagine a world in which playgrounds were chained up and students were forbidden to enter - due to the probability that a predator would find them there and hurt someone --or because students would not refrain from bullying each other. It is inconceivable that the public would accept this solution. Instead, we turn to character education and safety instruction such as "don't talk to strangers" to help our students understand the boundaries that exist for their own protection. We monitor this recreational space in schools, and when we observe inappropriate behavior, we can intervene and teach the students about the consequences of their behavior. We must do the same for the cybercommunity --a place where our students will spend a large amount of their time outside of school –unsupervised - if the survey data is correct.
If access is blocked at schools, then educators will not have the ability to teach students safe and ethical use within these social networking sites. Additionally, some excellent educational opportunities for global communication (21st century learning initiative) and sharing via blogs and other social networking sites will be shut down. We will not have the ability to teach students using "real world" situations because we will have to forbid them to enter the "real world" - their real world.