Flickr is blocked…I don’t believe it!

I’ve started a mini 23 things project for a select group of our teachers.  I’ve been planning something like this for a bigger group but circumstances have encouraged starting earlier with this group.

The teachers are the people who teach core subjects to the two classes who will be using (hopefully leasing) the netbooks in the trial that my school has started.  My principal is concerned that the teachers are able to see uses for the netbooks beyond simple Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  I am going to be running a few sessions on tools such as Voicethread, Audacity, Comic Life soon (has been delayed by more pressing PD needs like first aid) but in the meantime it seemed that introducing them to a few Web 2.0 tools via a 23 Things/SLAV Learning with Web 2.0 style project was a timely thing to do.

Last week I set up my blog and posted the first task – setting up their own blog using GlobalTeacher.  All the teachers were emailed the link with an explanation of what it was about and lots of encouragement to make a start.  You can read about the first tasks here.

This week I wanted to look at Flickr to introduce these teachers to some of the fun and educational things that can  be done with this resource.  I joined last year and while I haven’t uploaded many of my own photos, I have found it to be a fabulous resource both for specific curriculum needs (I started a blog for Art resources when I was having trouble finding pictures of masks for an art teacher), for illustrations for this blog and just for fun.  Lately I’ve mostly used it from home so it was a big surprise last week to discover that our internet provider in its infinite wisdom has blocked it as “music downloads”!  When I queried this with our network manager he said that Flickr had been put in the same category as Youtube (ie putting innocent lives in mortal danger) and therefore could not be unblocked.  I just wanted to scream.

I know that there are unsavoury things that can be found (if you look, and sometimes accidentally) but in that case perhaps we should also ban dictionaries – there are rude words in them!  Isn’t it better to teach our young people to deal with the inappropriate material in a sensible manner, after all, they are just as likely to come across it at home when the net nanny isn’t in place.

To prohibit the use of an enormously valuable resource just because there is a chance that students will find something unpleasant is plain shortsighted and dumb, we might as well ban cars because people have been killed in accidents.

Let’s stick with the business of education and do our job.  Let’s educate our young people and prepare them for all that they might encounter.  Let’s not wrap them in cottonwool and put blinkers on ourselves hoping all this scary stuff will just go away.  It won’t.

Let’s take advantage of a wonderful free resource.