Ignorance is NOT bliss!

Posted on May 24, 2011

Before you point out the obvious, I knooooow that I don’t work in the education sector… but on this occasion I think that it really is a worthwhile investment of time to take a closer look at a 2009 OFSTED report.

Essentially the OFSTED report finds that there is a greater online risk to individuals whose schools use ‘locked down systems’ than for those students whose schools allow them but alongside the provision of education surrounding their safe use.

But let’s be honest here, the students will be using these sites & tools from their own devices be it mobile or home based regardless or whether they are blocked in schools or not, so the risk is still as prevalent despite the school blocking the site. All the school has done is prevent a risk arising from use of their machines.

Alternatively, if the school provides education around safe practice of the tool, then that education stands the student in good stead regardless of the device or location that the student is accessing it from. In addition the school has a whole new resource available at its finger tips, whilst also providing students the opportunity to become introduced to, develop and extend their digital literacies.

Now if you recall at the beginning of this blog post I acknowledged that I didn’t work in the education sector, but I do work in a sector that relies upon educational activities (let’s be honest, which sector doesn’t?), so this report held particular interest for me, particularly when I read it like this…

Essentially the OFSTED report common sense finds that there is a greater online risk to individuals employees whose schools employers block websites than for those students employees whose schools employers allow them but alongside the provision of education surrounding their safe use.

But let’s be honest here, the students employees will be using these sites & tools from their own devices be it mobile or home based regardless or whether they are blocked in schools in organisations or not, so the risk is still as prevalent despite the school employer blocking the site. All the school employer has done is prevent a risk arising from use of their machines.

Alternatively, if the school organisation provides education around safe practice of the tool, then that education stands the student employee in good stead regardless of the device or location that the student employee is accessing it from. In addition the school employer has a whole new resource available at its finger tips, whilst also providing students employees the opportunity to become introduced to, develop and extend their digital literacies.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times somebody has told me that “Industry should be leading education” (normally quoted when I reference how far many educational establishments are ahead in terms of using learning technologies when compared to many typical employers), however on this occasion let’s just take a leaf (or several) out of the OFSTED report and let’s start recognising that our employees are just as capable of leaking commercially sensitive or security restricted material from ‘open’ systems, so why not start unblocking these sites, but couple it with some guidance and support on how to use them safely.

What do you think?

Ramblings of a mad man, or am I on to something?

Do your organisations block sites on these sorts of grounds? If so, why not suggest an initiative involving an education programme around some of the sites and see if the powers that be, buy into it?

Let me know how you get on…

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