Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Web 2.0 In Schools -- Question #1: Is it a Violation of Federal Law?

Following up on Miguel's post today, it is essential that we (collectively) have some legal advice on the implications of The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As Miguel alludes to, a big part of the seemingly out of control fascist filtering and blocking that is taking place in our schools is due to a strict interpretation of the rules for maintaining records in case of a civil lawsuit. I'm perfectly willing to entertain the idea that this is just an excuse for a deeply held desire by your IT and legal staff to maintain fascistic control of your school's network, but that's irrelevant.

Andy Carvin needs to call up his friends at Harvard or Yale, or something so we can know whether or not in the US:

  • We can produce authoritative arguments for a more sensible and lenient interpretation of the law than many districts have taken.
  • Federal law essentially precludes just about all use of offsite "Web 2.0" tools in schools and therefore:
    • We need to lobby for a change in the rules;
    • and present a united front in advocating for making equivalent functionality (as much as possible) available to students and teachers in a way that is compliant with the law.

For the past six years I've been advocating for quality open source wikis, weblogs, and other read/write web tools that can be hosted by schools because I knew that these issues would come down the pipe sooner or later. I don't know why anyone with much experience with school administration would have ever thought otherwise.

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