Don't you just hate when you have that awesome lesson planned using great digital tools, and then you get to school and that tool is blocked? Don't you hate how something is open one day, and then it is blocked the next? Why are we blocking so much in schools while these things are not blocked at home nor on their cell phone? Why can't schools teach kids to use digital tools the right way(especially Social Media) instead of just saying no you can't? Internet blocks at school can be a huge problem for the Digital Teacher, but you still have to have some. It is all about finding the Happy Medium.
First, let me tell you about the extreme. My current district (for the next two weeks anyway) just took internet blocks to the extreme. No You Tube. No Social Media. Heck you can't even Google search effectively because of changes in their security settings not matching up with Google safe search. The biggest problem with this is they did it one day in the middle of the week. They did not tell us their would be a crackdown. Their was no warning. This was not done in the summer so people can plan around it. How is that enlightening digital creativity? There are tools out there (like Twitter) that you can harness for education while teaching kids how to use a tool they might use in the workforce the right way. That is gone with these blocks. This also shows a massive mistrust of the instructional staff. In my district, that may be warranted, but its not a good signal to send.
Now am I advocating a system with no internet blocks? The answer to that is a resounding no. Schools have to have some blocks. It's a federal law that you have to block things like porn, and I of course think those things should continue, We have seen many stories of people who have access to things like bomb making instructions. Kids can't have access to that.
You have to find the happy medium between internet blocks and teaching digital citizenship. If we are truly preparing kids for the future, we have to prepare them to use the digital tools and the internet effectively. We can't just say no. Social Media should be open access in schools. There is lots of things you can do with it in the classroom. In my own class, we have projects like live tweeting a historical event or tweeting as a historical figure. Youtube has tons of educational videos, how to's, and just over benefit.
The thing that pisses me off more than anything about the blocks is they are not consistent. Schools and Districts, IF YOU ARE GOING TO BLOCK SOMETHING, MAKE IT CONSISTENT!!! You never know what a teacher is using effectively. In my own district, our school system has blocked and unblocked Twitter multiple times. Google +has great educational uses and I have seen the blocks on it literally change in the same day! Those are not effective ways to manage the technology in your district.
Really this issue comes down to what every issue related to technology in schools comes down to: the process. Teachers have to have creative ways to use these tools. They have to be mobile in the classroom to make sure these tools are being used effectively. They have to be able to recognize these tools. This makes technology coaches so important. Maybe if districts put the focus on teaching teachers instead of saying no, education would improve. You could actually hire tech coaches instead of folks who manage network blocks.