I saw and spoke with Al Upton last night at the Annual General Meeting for our state association CEGSA - ironically in the same room where two years earlier he was standing clutching his CEGSA Educator Of The Year award in recognition of the groundbreaking work he had been doing in his classroom. He had met with DECS and AEU representatives earlier in the day and was busily typing away at Update No. 3 for his closed miniLegends blog as the meeting unfolded. He was trying to get the wording right because as many online educators will attest, it is easy for readers to misinterpret words and make incorrect assumptions.
In an further ironic twist, we had an invited speaker on the topic of "Cyber Safety For Teachers" who unfortunately delivered one of the most negatively slanted talks on students and their use of the internet that I have ever heard. I won't elaborate any more on the speaker's identity or perspective but to agree with the concept of banning mobile phones in schools and wondering out loud why any 12 year old would ever need one wasn't really the right approach to take with a group of the most dedicated and forward looking educators in our state.
So, back to Update No. 3. Please go and read it carefully if you have been following Al and his class's situation and if you want to help his case (and mine and any other teachers in South Australia or elsewhere in the world who believe that students having real access to tools like blogs is key to effective learning of online ethics, safety and responsibility), add your comment to the list so that continues to grow. The most powerful ammunition at this point in time is real educators talking about the power of students using these technologies in an open and carefully monitored in their classrooms, talking about the immense benefits that their students have gained, talking about how obstacles can be turned into powerful and lasting learning experiences and how allowing students participation in the networked capacity of these tools can help to prevent the disaster stories that were almost gleefully portrayed during the AGM feature talk.
Add your story .... please.