Every school district has their own individual policy regarding how the Internet should be filtered, and why exactly it should be filtered in their particular manner. Unfortunately, because the risk of uncovering offensive or inappropriate images is high on the unrestricted web, several districts choose to block some of the more popular media and image search engines. I’ve been in school districts where Google Image Search, probably the most widely used, is blocked, and I’ve been in schools where almost every single image (including annoying banner ads) is unfiltered for the end users. The question remains then what do you, as the educator, feel safe giving your students to search?
I actually had used Google’s image search on a number of class projects with the students, but always gave them carefully chosen topics to search. Unfortunately, even searching for famous European explorers turns up offensive text within images, and seeing as students in elementary school have a difficult time controlling the giggles when such an image is discovered I’ve started looking for some alternatives; after all, the library has more than just one way to search through its volumes. The answer that has satisfied some of my needs (not all) was found at the Kid’s Click site, which I mentioned briefly in the last post. Kid’s Click has assembled a collection of picture databases organized by category so that teachers and students can surf a bit more safely, and in a more focused environment. Included in the list are sites dedicated to just outer space images, historical portraits of famous Americans, animals at the Smithsonian Zoo, and the University of Michigan’s Art, Architecture, and Museum object database (it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). While the sites listed don’t replace the power of Google or Yahoo, they are a good starting point for more focused, safer surfing.