Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogspot. What do these five sites have in common? All have earned themselves a spot on Howard County’s list of sites that are deemed “unsafe.” Blogspot is the most recent addition to the numerous sites that have already been blocked. However, some teachers use this site as a homepage to post homework and other announcements for their classes.
Denying students access to blogs during school may prevent distractions in class, but blocking Blogspot causes more of a problem than a help to teachers, who are unable to update their homework from school. The block affects students negatively too. For instance, students who need to look up an assignment on their teacher’s blog are unable to because the website is blacklisted on the school’s computers.
While HCPSS Policy 8080 explicitly states what is and is not allowed on a website in order to be able to accessible by students, blocking Blogspot seems like an extreme measure. The entire block seems simply unnecessary because the teachers who use this website do not violate any of the rules on their class pages, and students only visit the site to look at assignments; there is not much to it. “I do have my doubts about how [Policy 8080] has been interpreted and thus implemented to block specific teacher blogs that are in compliance with the cited criteria,” says Daniel Desmond, who uses Blogspot for his class page.
If the county blocked the website because Blogspot in its entirety is not in compliance with the county standard, shouldn’t there be a way to exempt teachers’ sites specifically? It would make more sense to have exemptions than to completely block the entire site. Then, students would be able to access teachers’ blogs in school with very little chance to access the entire site as a whole. Or even better, the county could just lift the entire block completely and trust that students will visit only for class-related activities, especially since they are under teacher supervision.