It was supposed to be so easy.......
Finish up the S2 'Food & Digestion' unit with a few problem solving tasks, a bit of 'cross curricular' with hints of ICT, Home Economics and Modern Studies, all wrapped up in some of the CfE capacities.
And then WebSense ruined it all.
Task 1 -
We wanted to find the price per kilo of some staple foods - potatoes, rice, chicken etc - to decide what you'd be able to afford to eat if you were on a low income, in say India, or a high income, in the USA , then discuss the relative benefits and drawbacks of each diet.
None of the sites that could have given me the cost of spuds could be viewed - every supermarket and price comparison site in the UK was blocked.
Now, I should point out that I wasn't trying to buy a fridge, book a holiday or get a bargain on eBay. I was trying to find information that I needed to teach a lesson. To children. In a school. Apart from the obvious learning outcomes they'd have also been made aware that such useful tools exist on the web.
In the end we fudged it a bit and made up the prices, eventually getting to the end of the task despite the obstacles placed in our way.
Task 2 -
Use the laptops to tryout some revision websites - BBC Bitesize and skoool.co.uk.
By this point I should have known better, but hope springs eternal....
Half the pupils were fine, logged on, looked at the sites, watched the animations and did the quizzes - SUCCESS!
Not so for the other half, for whom WebSense had another surprise. It seems if pupils (I'm not sure about staff) attempt to view 'too many' blocked sites, WebSense blocks their access to ALL sites.
How are pupils supposed to avoid trying to view blocked sites if they don't know they're blocked? Surely ALL pupils will eventually be blocked if this is how WebSense is going to work the system?
This reduced my lesson to an utter shambles, from what I'd thought was a pretty promising plan. It's anyone's guess what an inspector would have thought if they'd seen it. And it has finally crushed any will I had to incorporate more of this stuff into my teaching.
I know I may have been naive not to have tried the price finding task first and come up with a contingency, but should I now assume that half of my class will be disallowed from viewing ANY internet content and plan accordingly?
I'm no longer confident to integrate such tasks into my lessons - the barriers are too great and the returns too small. I used to get a real kick out of things like this just working - the pupils seemed to like it too.
Congratulations WebSense, you win.