Al Upton and the miniLegends 08, an inspirational education blog from a teacher and his Year 3 students in Glenelg, South Australia, has been “disabled in compliance with DECS wishes”, DECS being the Department of Education and Children’s Services of South Australia.
I would hope this is only a temporary closure, during which time the Department will be clarifying some clearer guidelines? I can’t see that sealing off blogs as an avenue for student publication can possibly be a successful longterm strategy.
When I designed a website for a NSW primary school way back in 1997, it was only after uploading it – and seeing exactly how much information about students could be scooped up by the always-improving search engines, even in 1997 – that we, as a group of teachers, began to realise we needed quite a few ground rules to ensure student safety (such as “no student surnames”) – and eventually there were official Departmental memos to follow. At the end of last year, I introduced wiki pages to my new school, and this year blogs as well. I’ve also been trying to ascertain what Web 2.0 style will best suit my Principal, who’d like an easy, efficient way to upload the weekly newsletter.
It’s almost been like the process of discovery has started all over again; only very early days yet, but I’ve worked hard to make sure we cover all our bases. In my research I did find examples of NSW schools which published surnames of students, floor plans, teacher details, etc, on their websites, which was of great concern. Al has hit a problem in South Australia, with a blog that encouraged the fostering of mentorships, and thus a concern, or a perception, that the students may have been (or would be?) revealing too much of themselves online.
Surely the best learning situation for the students, as I said last week, is to have modelled the essential self-regulation of what they upload to a blog: following examples which they can use as a set of strategies at home, when the educators aren’t around to support them. (We can’t assume their parents are aware of how Internet savvy their children are.) I’m constantly amazed with what students already know about the big wide world of the World Wide Web. I hope there is a satisfactory resolution for the miniLegends and their teacher.
As I’ve mentioned here before, we are having great success with our NSW Departmental-sponsored book rap – in blog and wiki form – this term, with an emphasis on jointly-constructed texts, and it’s upskilling lots of teachers, teacher-librarians and students, from NSW and beyond, in the ways of Web 2.0. There’s no stopping these newly-empowered bloggers now, I wouldn’t think!
The very best of luck to Al and his class in getting back online very soon!
Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to report that I received notification from the NSW DET’s Web Filtering Team that my “…reported Incident has been resolved…” My Flickr slideshows are once again available, even if only under a teacher username.