Friday, April 22, 2011

What's blocked in Schools? A Whole Lot!

About a year ago, my colleague, Cathy Swan, created a survey about filtering in schools. She shared it with fellow Google Certified Teachers, and then at a round table discussion at CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) in Washington, DC in March of 2010. Then it rested for a bit.

As of 3PM yesterday, we had 84 respondents. I've been digging around for the past couple of days trying to assess how much social media is really blocked in schools. I hear folks complain, but I want real numbers (I am most interested in 9-12). I made some calls to the Pew, Knight, and Kaiser foundations, but they didn't have any answers. I Tweeted a few educators who speak and write about media censorship. They didn't have anything either. I Googled it. I scanned the deep web. I checked the databases. I really don't think it's out there. Please tell me if I am wrong! 

So I resurrected Cathy's survey and pushed it out to Twitter fairly aggressively (my new followers are probably annoyed). I have a pretty small following on Twitter, thus not a whole lot of crowd sourcing leverage, so I asked a few friends to disseminate the survey too. I reached out to my Emerging Tech community, and as of 4PM Tuesday April 26, 2011, we have 216 responses. 

For now, I just want to share responses to one question, and I apologize to elementary folks, but I am going to focus on high school, because that is where I expect the least amount of filtering. I promise Cathy will publish the whole thing once we get more answers. I was fascinated by the results. It is so much worse than I imagined!
  • Google Search is blocked for 14% of high school students
  • Google Images is blocked for 23% of high school students
  • Google Docs is blocked for 28% of high school students
  • YouTube is blocked for 63% of high school students
  • Facebook/MySpace is/are blocked for 87% of high school students
  • Personal email is blocked for 49% of high school students

If we were to rewrite the question, we would have included Twitter. Since it is omitted, please feel free to talk about that in your open ended responses.
Thanks to all respondents and disseminators! Please continue to distribute the survey!

PS I received a response from a former Director of Technology who now works in education marketing. She challenge our questionnaire and wanted to make sure I saw a more comprehensive one that was done in 2009. I Thought I should share.

PSS MindShift also posted a list of commonly blocked sites in schools. It's rather astounding. During my last webinar, edmodo was identified as a blocked site!


  1. Well i am shocked to check different ratios of blocked sites and percentage prospect of view most of the school blocked YouTube and Facebook. But i can still access these sites through. access Blocked youtube

  2. I know that this is still a common problem. I'd love to know what has changed, if anything, 2 years later. Especially for platforms like Pinterest,new survey results would show if there are trends to be more open to social media or is it still restrictive. My district recently blocked my favorite bookmarking site, Pearltrees, for students and faculty.

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