I have been lucky to work in a district that has done what they can to support my efforts to integrate technology into my course. My administrators seem to be genuinely interested in the things my students accomplish and have supported me when I approach our district technology directors about my technology wants. I have developed a relationship with our district technology director (something I recommend you all do) and he has given me lots of new toys to field test with my students. These district level supports are great and I appreciate all of their efforts to open up access to the sites I would like to use with my students. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough power. The state filters are set more strict than our local filters so my students still can not access sites like google apps, twitter, ning, & facebook – all of which I intended to use to create a community of learners that connected my different classes and took my class beyond the school day. I set each of these up at home over the summer, so imagine my angst once my students tried to access the sites and found them to be blocked.
Again, I have been lucky. The state filter does not restrict teacher accounts. So in order to bypass the student filters, I simply login each of my students as myself. Some might worry about my privacy, but I do not keep things on my account. All my grading is done online with a separate password. In fact, my acceptance of the lack of privacy is a way for me to model for my students how to behave online as our notions of “privacy” are changing with the medium – very good lesson for students to learn as they contemplate the kind of digital footprint they are leaving.