Here in lonely ol' Adelaide, the edublogger is a bit of a lonely breed. So then when I have an opportunity to meet with a couple of fellow South Aussie educators who share the same excitement about the potential of blogging and other emerging technologies, it is an opportunity not to be missed. The instigator in this case was Al Upton, one of the most innovative primary classroom teachers going around. He has done some amazing work with his classes otherwise known as the Mini Legends but has had to rebuild his class blog and other components formerly hosted by Schoolblogs into a new cost-free, filter resistant host at WordPress. He's also a LTI Coach and while very savvy at successful integration of "just-in-time" technology learning, he is only recently entering the edublogger conversation. He was holding a training session on a software called LAN School which he uses in his classroom and suggested there should be a f2f following that session of known South Aussie edubloggers. So Al emailed Bill Kerr, Peter Ruwoldt, Jason Plunkett and yours truly (not much gender balance ,hey?) to see if anyone could make it and have a bit of a chinwag.
Well, LAN School was pretty good - certainly better value than Cool School (even if I'd be a perfect candidate) and I'll be seeing if I can find the $$$ to fund it for our computer room, at least. There was one other keen participant, Sue from Port Noarlunga Primary School and she stayed around to find out a bit more about the potential of classroom blogging. As it turned out, only Bill Kerr could make it and it was a real pleasure to meet an educator whose blog I read regularly and have even left a comment or two on. Al knows him pretty well through his involvement in GameMaker but we tossed around a few ideas and conversations centred around a few main issues common to all of us.
The issue was raised about internet filters at our sites and its subsequent effect on the uptake of new web tools and getting both teacher and students involved in the Communication aspect of ICT. Both Bill and Al have contributed to nonscholae.org with their thoughts but I have to admit that anything I could come up with has already been said better by others. But we all agreed that the current filter mechanism is clumsy, reactive and not meeting the needs of education. There are so many barriers to change on this issue including the fear of litigation from angry parents.
We also tossed around ideas about getting other teachers on board and start our own South Australian edublogging community. To me, other educators are the ideal starting point. If more teachers come on board, then there is more automatic pressure to bring on the decision makers to provide appropriate web filtering for the use of these 21st century learnirg and collaborating tools. Unfortunately, I had to bail at 1pm for another appointment, so I don't know what the others wanted to do from here. But it was excellent to talk f2f with bloggers who've been bitten by the same bug. Blogging is still the best professional development I've ever done.