Although at times, it feels like there are very few education bloggers in Adelaide, a face to face opportunity like the education.au Jimmy Wales event reminds me that there are other voices out there in this town, presenting different takes on the state and future of education. I’m not a big podcast listener but I’ve (finally) recently finished listening to a Nancy White recording from her 2006 speaking tour of Australia. This podcast was recorded at a lunchtime address to a NSW VET sector conference and is usual with any of Nancy’s work, contains many references to the nuances and capabilities of online networks and communities. One of the points that stuck firmly in my mind is the concept that a new voice can be magnified by someone else who already has an established network. So I’m going to do exactly that in my post.
One of the educators at my table on Monday was John Travers. John is extremely well known person in the South Australian education community, having held the position of Manager of the now defunct Technology School of The Future at its peak. John even got to show Queen Elizabeth II around the facilities of TSOF during her last official Australian visit but today works with pre-service teachers at Flinders University. He was also the principal of Seacliff Primary School when I completed my final student-teacher practicum back in 1986! He’s recently dipped his toes into blogging and is looking to build his online learning network. One of his recent posts came out of one of the conversations round our table concerning the impact of heavy-handed filtering systems. He says:
It is too easy to resort to victim behavior, blaming ‘the department’ for restrictions on web access when the power is fundamentally in the hands of the school. It means being accountable for one’s actions. But principals and and teachers and school councils are expected to be accountable, to act reasonably and to act in good faith. They manage this in relation to the purchase of books for the library, and are perfectly capable of doing this in relation to selecting web sites for access by students.
Although there are many education systems with less restrictive filters than SA, and with a hierachial permissions system, John points out that there are practical ways to get on with the business of innovation. Of course that doesn’t mean that we can’t lobby and push for a better filter system in the future but we can’t let it become an excuse to prevent the innovation.
John’s a fantastic person to swap educational technology ideas and concepts with in person. I’m hoping that some of my readers who enjoy my flawed ramblings might want to check out his blog, leave some comments and add him to your aggregator.