Daily Archives: December 9, 2006


Adelaide's only daily newspaper, the Advertiser, has run a number of articles this week with an emphasis on the negative impact of social networking sites.
Dec. 4 - Kids keep online threats secret from parents
plus the Editorial.
Dec. 5 - Parents warned against child Net risks
What seemed to feature prominently was the apparent powerlessness of parents in being able to track their child's online activities. I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of teachers and politicians feeling pretty much the same way.

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, in an emailed statement to The Advertiser, said an anti-bullying coalition, formed in July last year between government, Catholic and independent schools, would meet in January to discuss a state campaign to alert parents about cyber bullying.

She said the Government released an information package on cyber bullying to schools in July, 2004.

Wow, that's really dealing with the here and now. The thing that probably amazed me the most was that cyber-bullying, vilification of teenagers and other technology enabled issues is only just getting some column space and mainstream media attention now. Sure the technology makes this sort of behaviour easier and more viral in nature but it worries me that blogs, social networking sites, SMS, video sharing sites and so on are being identified as the problem. It seems to infer the incredulous assumption that if you got rid of or clamped down on these web-based or mobile phone-based technologies, then all of the bullying, the anti-social behaviour, the risk-taking and the low self esteem will fade into irrelevance.

As my retiring deputy said to me, "I don't live in the same world as my students anymore. It's moving too fast for me to keep up. I can't relate to their experiences."

I would say that the majority of teachers fall into that category. Unless, they willingly go online and explore the web and become familiar with the students' tools of choice (as many edubloggers do) then how are they to teach strategies and offer advice to their students? If their online experience is restricted to the Allowed Categories of the filter, then how could they be familiar with Social Networking and all it can entail. Yet that's who parents turn to for solutions and who politicians saddle with the responsibility. Education, a slow moving conservative institution, is charged with keeping pace with the exponential changes and offer methods and strategies to help our students avoid the pitfalls and to deal with the consequences of online life.

While on the subject of online fear, the website RateMyTeachers.com (I won't dignify it with a link) got a run in the local rag as well.  I had to shake my head whilst in conversation with some other local school educators who basically said that they don't discuss anything like this in their classroom because they feared making the kids aware of a site like this would attract them to it. I think they are missing the point - the teachers will be the last to know, not the students! I actually wish that people wouldn't get so hot and bothered over sites like this that are nothing more an advertising fueled site that thrives on its own notoriety. I would hope that my next position in education isn't go to depend on a review from RateMyTeachers.com.

Lastly, on the topic of local papers and very closely related to the topic at hand, my photo and thoughts featured in an article in the Independent Weekly out today titled "Web technology leaves SA schools behind". There's no link yet to the article but the reporter, David Sly, interviewed me by phone on where I think education is relation to Web 2.0 in this state. Mike Seyfang is also featured in the article and was responsible for pushing David my way for my views. Funny how there is still a buzz in seeing my own words and photo in a very old medium, the newspaper. 


I moaned about these awards last year but this year I thought that I'd shut up and nominate the sort of edublogs I think are deserving of recognition regardless of whether their readership is widespread or not. And because I nominated some close to home (i.e . Aussie and Kiwi blogs) I wasn't too confident that others would share my view and that the North American edublogosphere numbers would wash them away. But I was pleasantly wrong!

The ironic rub is that the familiar names I chose (and I'll get to who they are shortly) probably would prefer to avoid the spotlight and certainly aren't online for personal promotion. I wanted diversity of ideas and opinions to have a place in these awards - and also the fact that most of my nominations have commented on my blog, chatted with me on skype or selflessly pushed relevant resources my way without any strings attached means the wider world needs to read, be challenged and then vote for them.

So who popped up that I had personally nominated?

Best Group Blog

Digital Chalkie - a bunch of Western Australian educators podcasting and blogging offering an open forum space as an alternative to the locked down mailing lists and LMS based forums that seem to pass for e-learning educator portals. By the way, a chalkie is Australian slang for teacher, an image that is sadly not out of date.

Best Individual Blog

Alexander Hayes - it is no shock to anyone who reads here that I am a big fan of Alex Hayes and it is great to see his blog mentioned here amongst some of the big names of the edublogosphere. A Stephen Downes' description of one of Alex's posts sums him up well - authentic. He's a doer in a field of thinkers and speakers - no disrespect to the other nominees - and he challenges like no other person I have crossed paths on the web (with the exception of Leigh Blackall and my next nomination). A mLearning advocate of the highest degree, he is creative and impossible to pigeonhole. You need to put aside several hours and explore his blog and then branch off to his many other spaces on the web.

Best Newcomer

Artichoke - Arti is hardly a newcomer, the blog archives date back to 2004 but 2006 saw this gender-elusive NZ blogger's influence really spread. Everything posted is designed make the reader think, even though I'm convinced the writing is not designed with an audience in mind. And every post gathers a loyal band of commenters keen to put their twist on Arti's words. Go read - be enthralled or appalled.

Best Librarian Blog

HeyJude - fellow Aussie and library guru who is one the fastest learners that I've come across online. Deserves the recognition because Aussie teacher-librarians dabbling in Web 2.0 is a very rare thing.

Best Teacher Blog

Borderland - anyone who attracts DI trolls and phonics fanatics to his blog to dispute his musings and thoughts must be viewed as someone of influence to be countered. Doug writes of his failings as much as his triumphs and is the most honest edublogger in my Bloglines account (IMHO). He shouldn't be but is probably surprised by the attention.

Vote now.