A few months ago Tom Barrett put out a request via Twitter and other places to English schools to co-create a list of what tools are being blocked in which schools across the country. He offered up a spreadsheet for that purpose that attempted to gather that data that got about 25 responses. At the time, I thought it was an interesting idea, and when I heard Jay Rosen’s great talk about  at TedxNYED, I started thinking about how it might be interesting to take Tom’s idea and collect and pool what we know about our approach to filtering on a more global scale and try to make some sense of it collaboratively. What do we block, and where do we block it? And, more importantly, why?

So, here is an attempt to do that. I’ve put up a Google Map where anyone who wants to participate can take a few minutes to add a pin where their school is and add some data about the extent to which they filter. To make it easy to get a visual sense of what the filter looks like around the world, I’m suggesting participants use a green pin for open, yellow for somewhat open, or red for mostly closed. Certainly, those are loose interpretations, but I’m hoping they might highlight some patterns based on geography or politics or culture. I’m also hoping people will be willing to add some context to their level of filtering. Why do you block what you block? Who blocks it? Who can unblock it?

The steps are simple:

  • Go to the Map Page
  • Login to Google
  • Click on “Edit” at the top right of the left hand information pane
  • Click on the pin icon at the top left of the map
  • Zoom in on the map and place the pin on top of your school site
  • Add the name of your school to the dialog box that pops up
  • Briefly list what is blocked
  • Add any context or interesting info that might be of value
  • Click on the pin in the upper right of the dialog box and change the color to either red, yellow or green
  • Click OK
  • Click on “Done” at the top right of the left hand information pane

A couple of thoughts. First, for this to scale, it will take the spreading capabilities of the network to get the word out. So if you want to participate, please tweet, retweet and spread the word. Second, if this works, it might be interesting to think about what other types of information we can begin to gather at scale. Jay, in his presentation, mentioned knowing what effects NCLB had on students and schools across the country. Maybe, if this works as proof of concept, we can begin to paint a clearer, more accessible picture of what education and learning looks like around the world. Finally, I’m open to suggestions as to tweaks on this particular effort around filtering and blocking, as well as looking for ideas as to what to do with whatever data we collect.


View What Does Your School Block? in a larger map