I was in a near by school district recently for a workshop. It was being held in a high school computer lab and when we broke to do our first assignment, I immediately went to Google Docs. I figured I could start the project in the class and then quickly pick up where I left off at home.
Except the district blocks Google Docs.
This lab was locked down tight. I couldn't use a thumb drive. I couldn't get to several sites I normally use every day. Other teachers couldn't access their school sites to grab information needed for the class. The instructor was at a loss at how to get her assignments from her portable drive to us through this school network. IT was called but it was a late night class and I'm pretty sure we were a low priority. Finally, someone suggested a proxy server to allow us to reach our email accounts. I'm sure it broke many school rules to use a proxy but it allowed us to continue on with our class.
I imagine this is the kind of wall of frustration many of our students hit when they try to work at school in the same way they work at home. We teachers resorted to the same thing that many of them do. Work around the system.
I was helping a student the other day in my school who was trying to grab some pictures he had stored on PhotoBucket which is blocked in my district. As soon as he discovered it was blocked, he pulled out his internet ready phone and went to the site where he then emailed the pictures to himself. He's not going to stop using Photobucket, he just is going to adjust his work flow.
I worry at the message we are sending our kids. I also struggle with trying to figure the right balance between protection and paranoia. Don't know the answer yet, but I am working on it.
[Original Image captured from http://www.apple.com/iphone/gallery/ and then altered in photoshp]