There is a loud and concerned outcry of opposition from writers of educational/technology Weblogs these days over the initial passage of legislation known as DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act) in the House. The bill is now being considered by the Senate. DOPA seems aimed directly at the worries over such sites as MySpace and the very real fact that some young people are misusing the technology and are being harmed by online predators. Unfortunately, the bill would force schools to block all commercial websites that have any interactive elements.
It seems to me, as it does to most of the voices out there, that the role of educators should be to teach our students about these sites and how to best use them, and to be critical of them, too. The volume of ads alone provide an opportunity to discuss what the owners of the sites are really trying to accomplish. To merely put up a wall is to ignore the fact that our students are probably still accessing these sites at home or at a friend’s home, and they need to learn how best to use Weblogs, Wikis and other sites for creative expression, and they need the skills to protect themselves against any dangers out there. The classroom is one of the best places to learn such skills. The home, of course, is the other place but how many parents are that savvy? (Of course, how many teachers are that savvy, too? It’s a legitimate question).
Teachers and others who believe in the opportunities of the Read/Write Web are being urged to contact their senators and legislators and urge rejection of DOPA. Here is part of one letter:
As the Web becomes more and more a part of the way that kids communicate and socialize, I would submit that we need to focus on educating them in the most effective and safe ways to use these technologies. Banning them is a reactionary response, not a reasoned one. And it is a response whose ultimate motives are spurious at best. Why not, instead, focus our discussions on how best to prepare the millions of new teachers who will be entering the classroom in the next five years to deal with these issues, or on reaching out to parents to make sure they are well versed in overseeing their children’s use of the Internet? — from http://dopa.pbwiki.com/