Unblocking Internet & allowing smart phones at school

The next couple of posts will be a continuation of my original post regarding unblocking Internet at Schools.

Queensland public schools have limited use of the Internet due to web filtering that is in place “…to protect staff and students…” (Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2012).  There are good reasons to be cautious when dealing with the variety of content that is available on the Internet, especially when this content is being accessed by children.  This cautious attitude though is based in fear and often due to schools and educators trying to catch up to how young people are using the Internet (Pascoe, 2012). Blocking the Internet is neglecting the need to educate children and young-adults about the importance of digital citizenship.  Blocking the Internet at schools also diminishes the authenticity and ICT enhancement of learning possibilities.

It is particularly important to invest time to educate senior secondary young-adults in how to use the Internet effectively and responsibly for learning and for social networking.  A majority of senior secondary students own their own smart-phones (capable of surfing the web) and yet most Queensland schools ban the use of mobile phones at school.  Ownership of mobile phones is so prevalent, due to decreasing cost and popularity, that it is predicted that mobile phone use will be a major educational trend (The New Media Consortium, 2012).  Many senior secondary students have vibrant and complex online lives using social media and social gaming. Many of these students feel a major disconnect between their real lives, which includes online activity, and the restricted environment at school (Selwyn, 2006).  Educators are continuously striving to make learning an engaging and authentic activity for young-adults, yet this cannot be achieved if Internet use is disregarded or limited to certain sites.

Explicit teaching and learning activities that promote digital citizenship and an awareness of Internet issues are an important focus that must be jointly fostered with a new open Internet access & mobile phone use policy.  This is an opportunity to learn from students about their Internet use and also to promote responsible and effective Internet use for learning purposes.

The importance of Digital Citizenship for senior secondary students

Just like living in a society, we should have high expectations of how people conduct themselves online.  Digital citizenship is how a person uses and interacts with technology; it is imperative that we show by role-modelling and also through ICT rich activities how to promote good digital citizenry. Each student should learn that the way they use the Internet can impact themselves and others, both positively and negatively.  The way that students approach all Internet activities can be underlined by an ethical and moral responsibility.  Schools and educators need to be open-minded about learning from students and to trust that students can learn to be responsible (Adora Svitak, 2010).


Adora Svitak. (2010, February). Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids . Retrieved from TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak.html

Barseghian, T. (2012, March 6). Students Demand the Right to Use Technology in Schools. Retrieved from Mind Shift: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/03/students-demand-the-right-to-use-technology-in-schools/

Department of Education, Training and Employment. (2012). SMART Classrooms: Web Filtering. Retrieved from Department of Education, Training and Employment: http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/enterprise-platform/web-filtering/index.html

Pascoe, C. J. (2012). Studying Young People’s New Media Use: Methodological Shifts and Educational Innovations. Theory into Practice, 51(2), 76-82.

Selwyn, N. (2006). Exploring the ‘digital disconnect’ between net‐savvy students and their schools. Learning, Media and Technology, 31(1), 5-17.

The New Media Consortium. (2012). NMC Horizon Project Preview: 2012 K-12 Edition [pdf].

4 comments on “Unblocking Internet & allowing smart phones at school

  1. I had this conversation with a colleague the other day and mentioned there needs to be a different focus in what we expect for our students and the use of technology. You used the right words, “trust that students can learn to be responsible.” That is very relational in nature and will take a different mindset amongst educators. Good post.


    • elketeaches says:

      The way the Internet is talked about sometimes around children reminds me of old-school discussions about the dangers/evils of sex & alcohol……it was made to sound so forbidden that many of us (risk-seeking teenagers) HAD to try it! It took a long time before the conversation changed from “Don’t do it, it’s dangerous” to “well, here are the “real” reasons why people do these things and if you’re going to try it then you need to know X, Y & Z”.


  2. […] promote the idea of an open access and bring your own device (BYOD) type of schooling environment.  I understand the reasoning behind blocking sites at school; […]


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