Blocked to Unblocked: YouTube Filter to be Lifted

Julia Kim, Opinion Editor

After wanting to increase student accessibility to online tools for the past four years, the Irvine Unified School District Information Technology department will move forward with its newest project: allowing students access to YouTube on campus. 

“It’s something that they’ve wanted to do for quite some time, but with YouTube, it’s kind of hard to manage what students view,” computer support specialist Thomas Trinh said. “Some of the content is really good for student learning, and then some of it is not so good.”

The project was initiated by Kris Linville when he was IUSD’s educational technology director, before moving to Portola High. Since then, the district has developed new software that uses Moderate Restricted mode to filter only certain videos on the website.

“If the teachers want them to access something that is currently blocked, they have the ability to whitelist that,” IUSD educational technology coordinator Shaney Berznasky said. 

In order to get to the website, however, students will need parent approval. Approval or denial was signed by parents at registration in August. For students with parent permission, they will then need to take a Digital Citizenship training on Canvas, composed of a short video and pass the corresponding quiz. 

“Students can retake the test as many times as they want. We’ve set the bar pretty high actually – they have to get a 100% on that Canvas course to pass,” Berzansky said. 

The process is estimated to take less than 20 minutes and will occur during advisement on Oct. 15. Students will take the quiz each year in order to renew their access. 

“One thing that teachers may be concerned about with something like this is classroom management,” educational technology mentor Jon Resendez said. “But at Portola, we’ve always felt like it’s better to put it out there and try to teach the student how to manage it than to withhold it from them and not trust them. We try to start from a place of trust and assume good intentions. But if we have to tighten down the screws later, we will.”

With extended YouTube access, not only will students be able to participate in digital learning, but teachers will also be able to use digital tools like EdPuzzle to enhance student engagement with online learning.