Sansing, C. (2014). On Net Neutrality. Knowledge Quest, 43(1), 14-15.
This article explains what Net Neutrality is exactly and how it effects schools. "'Net neutrality' describes an internet that passes along all bits of information at an equal rate" (Sansing, 2014). However, no net neutrality means that service providers can slow down incoming information by throttling the web site and it can throttle the other way to speed other sites up. This presents a problem when we are dealing with intellectual freedom.
Sansing brings up four concerns of how not having an open internet can effect our students. The first piece is political, which connects to the last article I wrote. What happens when the large publishing group and the large service provider decides to team up? Will information from any of the competitors ever be reaching our students? Will they have the ability to look at multiple sources to decide reliability on their own? Or will time constraints make them choose where to go?
The second concern is censorship and as a librarian who believes in the freedom of speech, reading, and speaking, this really made me think. Will schools state that the network is open, but instead of filtering sites will we discover that instead the information is being throttled?
Standardization of schooling and the hand the corporations have in it is a third concern. Will we be forced to engage with product (Sansing, 2014) instead of with our peers? If more money is being spent on a specific site that is not being throttled, will we be highly encouraged to use that website?
Lastly, are we teaching students what can actually be done on the internet in a way that challenges how they think? If we buy certain products and services and we use only those, how do we justify teaching, showing, and experimenting with things that are not in that box? If learning becomes too focused than what we show them and what we do becomes too rigid and we never have to ability to let them see outside that internet box we created.
Sansing brings up some great thoughts on why net neutrality is so important to teach students to express themselves as well as to think for themselves.
I think my favorite quote in this article, by far was "Helping kids do inquiry-based research on a controversial issue is not the same as being free to do those things." (Sansing, 2014). I feel so strongly about taking chances and learning. To read about something that makes you uncomfortable gives you the opportunity to really make a decision about it. In fact, an old professor told me that at least 25% of your library collection should make you uncomfortable. I believe in that. So, in theory, 25% of what we let kids research on the internet should make us uncomfortable as well. In my school we do a large debate project that does focus on topics that are controversial. It is important to guide them through this process to gather the proper information. As this is being done, we must let them explore all kinds of sources without having the website on abortion throttled. The freedom to learn should not come at a cost.