Intellectual Freedom and Web 2.0

How Intellectual Freedom supports Web 2.0 in the school.

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Intellectual Freedom & Freedom of Expression Defined

The ALA states that “Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.” (ALA 2014) This definition then moves us to consider what freedom of expression entails.

Freedom of expression, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Importance of Intellectual Freedom

When librarians censor or restrict access to certain resources (either print or digital), they are violating constitutional rights of library users. It is vitally important, and in fact a core value of the American Library Association, that library professionals refrain from censoring materials as doing so creates unlawful barriers to research, education, and general information access.

Relevance of Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries

The intellectual freedoms of students and teachers, with regards to using Web 2.0 tools in schools, may be infringed upon due to restrictive internet filters and blocks. The National Ed Tech Plan, state technology plans (such as the SC Ed Tech Plan), teacher coalitions (such as the NCTE), school administrator associations (such as the AASA), the AASL, ISTE and many other constituencies all encourage the integration of 21st century technologies in education, yet many schools still emplace internet filters that (intentionally or unintentionally) limit or completely deny the use of educationally beneficial Web 2.0 applications. There are many people or groups who oppose students having access to Web 2.0 tools in schools, due to safety concerns such as exposure to harmful or distracting materials or fear of litigation, but with careful planning, clear guidelines and internet safety education, schools can provide access to these tools in a safe, intellectually free environment.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0, as defined by Wikipedia, describes World Wide Web sites that use technology beyond the static pages of earlier Web sites. A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to Web sites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content.” Examples of Web 2.0 tools include blogs, wikis, social-networking, video sharing sites, and discussion forums. Web 2.0 tools are sources of information for students and teachers, as well as resources for communication and contribution of thoughts and ideas. These tools should therefore not be restricted without just cause.