In the recent polling of students in grades 4-12 as part of our effort to refocus our digital learning vision as a Future Ready school district (see Students Speak Out on Future Ready Vision), we asked two questions related to accessing blocked websites through our district network. Students responding to the survey were reassured that their participation was totally anonymous and they were encouraged to provide a truthful response.
The first question: To your knowledge, how many of the students in your grade would you say are able to go to websites AT SCHOOL that the school tries to block?
As you can see from this slide depicting the responses across all grade levels (4th through 12th), a majority of students indicated they were aware of at least some students in their grade accessing blocked sites. Over one-fourth had knowledge of most or all of the students in their grade engaged in such activity.
One might not expect this type of activity occurring in the lower grades so this next chart illustrates the responses from just senior high students (10th through 12th grade).
From this chart (above), you can determine that the frequency of classmates accessing blocked content at the upper grades is not substantially different from across all grade levels. It is therefore probable based on the data that accessing blocked content is grade-level independent.
Students paint a somewhat different picture when the self-report their own behavior in accessing blocked content. The next chart depicts the rate of this behavior among the survey’s respondents across all grade levels. The question they were asked was: How often have YOU gone to websites AT SCHOOL that the school tries to block? Remember, no one will know how you responded to this question so please help by answering honestly.
As you can see, three out of five students reported their own accessing of blocked web content as rarely or never, one in five indicated sometimes, while slightly less than one in five said often or always.
Again, looking at just the responses of students in the senior high grades (10th through 12th, below), the pattern is somewhat similar when self-reporting their own behavior. Substantially less students are actually accessing the blocked sites than is believed by the students themselves.
There were some modest differences when comparing the responses between male and female students. This first chart again is all students across 4th through 12th grade. Females believed their classmates engaged in this behavior less frequently.
In the second question, female students also reported personally engaging in this activity far less frequently or not at all in comparison to their male classmates.
Like much of the survey data, which is still being analyzed and will be reported on in future posts, as many questions as answers can be derived from this data. Here’s a few that popped into my head when thinking about this post:
- Is the district blocking too much or too little web content?
- Are we lapse in teaching appropriate Internet behavior and responsibility?
- Why do our students feel the need to access blocked sites? What is their motivation?
- Why are the results of these two survey questions very similar across grade levels representing a nine-year age span?
- In cases where blocking Internet content is justified, are classroom management practices appropriate for student use of technology?
I leave it to you, the reader, to ponder those questions and if you have any of your own, please don’t hesitate to include them in the comments below.