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Is Restricting Digital Access the Same as Banning Books?

Is Restricting Digital Access the Same as Banning Books?


One tech director from Minnesota thinks so. Trained as a librarian, he believes that educators have the right to fight for access to restricted digital resources just as they would for books, arguing that over-restriction of internet access can be detrimental to student learning.

Johnson, who is in charge of the internet filtration in his district, says that administration should do its best to ensure that students are exposed to a wide range of digital resources just as they are exposed to a wide range of traditional texts.

"'I feel they’ve totally underestimated the importance of making sure students have access to a variety of viewpoints and digital resources as well,' Johnson said of the traditional librarian focus on printed texts," according to KQUED News.

Specifically, Johnson admonishes districts that ban sites like YouTube and social media channels. Though many districts ban such sites in an attempt to crack down on distractions to learning, Johnson argues it ultimately prevents students from exposure to real-world happenings.<

"In fact, in an age when presidential candidates are being interviewed on YouTube and most of the political debate happens on social media channels, Johnson argues that prohibiting access to these sites actually denies students the opportunity to practice being engaged citizens with a valued voice," the article said.

Joyce Valenza. assistant professor at Rutgers University, agrees. Responsible for helping to train the next generation of librarians, Valenza argues that in order to create digital citizens and future leaders, students need to learn how to responsibly use all forms of technology.

She says that though teachers fear distractions, better classroom management can be an alternative to outright restricting use.

"Students need to be part of the discussion about classroom norms and can help set the consequences for breaking them. But prohibiting students from accessing the tools to create digital stories, share and access other people’s ideas on current events, and watch video lessons restricts their intellectual rights," she said, according to the article.

Valenza argues that restriction becomes an even bigger problem in larger districts, specifically urban ones with primarily low-income students. Here, she says, restrictions are harsher and therefore further disadvantage its low-income student base.

"'Learners that need the resources the most are the ones less likely to have anyone fighting on their behalf,' she said."

Read the full article here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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