Hello Russ,

February 15, 2007

I just wanted to take a moment to clear up a few things regarding blocked websites.

As you may know, the Child Internet Protection Act, a federal law, requires the school district to have filtering software in place. This software is mainly used to block out pornography but there are other sites such as chat rooms and gaming sites that can also be harmful to children and/or do not pertain to classroom instruction.

Last week our Media Services Department was performing routine maintenance on our filtering software. During this maintenance period your site (Russ Gibb At Random), along with many other sites, were blocked from district computers for about two hours. I know that your site is no longer blocked because I was able to read about this concern on my district computer.

The other point that I would like to comment on is the issue concerning the district acting as some type of “Big Brother� censor. This is certainly not the case in our district. As I mentioned, the filtering software is used to block out pornography and other internet sites that are not relevant to instruction. However, if a site is blocked, teachers can contact Media Services and request that the site be unblocked. They must explain the reason why students need access and its relevance to the classroom lesson.

Students and staff are using all types of technology, including the internet, everyday in our district as a tool for learning. In fact, our district is truly a leader in using web-based technology as a teaching tool. We have many teachers using i-learn, i-blog and i-seek.

iBlog allows teachers to create their own classroom blog using nothing more than a web browser, such as Explorer or Firefox. From posting homework to pod-casting this easy and effective teaching tool allows teachers to interact with students and parents over the internet.

iLearn gives teachers unprecedented options for breaking down the barriers of a brick-and-mortar classroom and creating a digital classroom. Students can discuss topics brought up in class and even critique each-other’s projects in a safe and secure on-line learning environment.

Teachers share online resources and links to educational websites but, until now, there was not an easy way to share these links through out the district. iSeek is a program designed to be a warehouse of searchable links for educators and parents. iSeek is a custom made “Google� for education, designed and created by our district staff.

From publishing to the internet, sharing resources, or creating a digital classroom, teachers in the Dearborn Public Schools have a comprehensive set of teaching tools that give them the ability to reach out to students in a medium they understand and use: the computer.

Take care,

David Mustonen
Communications Coordinator
Dearborn Public Schools

David Mustonen; 12: