Daily Archives: December 19, 2006


I've never really gotten into forums, and getting involved in blogging has made it even harder to engage with that format that has been around now for quite a long time. Today, Leigh Blackall has pointed to an EdNa based forum that's been brewing for a while complete with flaming, self promotion, one liner put downs and disrespect aplenty. Alex Hayes has put together some thoughts on the same topic. I suppose at least those forums are showing some action. Back over at my own professional association's EdNa Group (sorry - locked to the outside world) things are quieter than my childhood Christmases on the farm. I'm guilty of not contributing much there but it seems South Aussie educators aren't really into posting to forums either.

Interestingly, one of the topics over at the forum in question dealt with the supposed inferiority of blogs to other forms of online communication. See, I actually think it is possible to have a forum like conversation on a blog with a number of distinct advantages. And I'm talking from a user's point of view, not a web designer or coder or other type of expert. I just want to connect with educators who are interested in discussing topics of mutual interest - if no-one's interested, then it still ends up being a digital record of my own thoughts and observations.

A current example is happening at the moment over on Brett Moller's blog, where he and I have been involved in a discussion via comments and a series of posts on the topic of "Authority of Source". (More on the actual conversation later - one hint though, you need to select the white space under Brett's own comments to see what he has written).  Here are two differing points of view, with the dangerous ingredient of religious beliefs mixed in, and the exchange is very respectful, aimed at furthering understanding as opposed to proving a point and open for any of Brett's readers to join in. I don't need to log in to participate, it's Brett's topic so all of the content stays right there on his blog for as long as he wishes and anyone with a web connection in the world can join in. The content is gathered up via RSS and search engine crawling so everything written is highly accessible and open. A forum just can't do that. And as Leigh has shown, it's very easy to jump ship and take all of your digital content with you.

I still do frequent forums and they can be a place to gather new ideas but the flexibility and ease of a blog makes it my personal choice - by a country mile.

Just read a great post from Tony Forster who has a look at some interesting data comparing literacy/numeracy scores and problem solving scores from different countries. After looking at the stats, Tony offers this analysis:

Australia, New Zealand and Canada score significantly higher than USA despite sharing similar cultural backgrounds. I have noticed a significant difference, USA educators are more focussed on the transfer of knowledge than the development of problem solving skills through self-directed, problem based learning.

In an interesting exercise, Tony did some Googling of key words to back up his observations. Read the whole post for the total picture but for me, it highlights the danger of Australian education authorities taking their lead from US strategies and drawing conclusions and looking for solutions to our own issues from a wealth of US education data available online.  We shouldn't always assume that US-centric educational practices are the best, especially in the K-12 sector.