Ordered for closure

Just coincidence? Or something darker that I read today of two edublogs being closed down by the institution where the teachers works. In his blog Teaching Generation Z, Graham Wegner pointed out Al Upton and the minLegends 08 which currently reads:

Order for Closure

This blog has been disabled in compliance with DECS wishes (Department of Education and Children’s Services – South Australia)

It seems that this blog in particular is being investigated regarding risk and management issues. What procedures should be taken for the use/non-use of blogs to enhance student learning will be considered.

Please note … I am greatly comforted by the support from many of my parents/care-givers, the staff & leadership at school and the Learning Technologies team at ‘headquarters’.

I absolutely value the support and wisdom given to me from my global social and learning networks – and isn’t that what the whole thing is all about?

Best of all are the kids .. without their enthusiasm, love for blogging and collaboration … well this blog would never have existed .. and now, would not be closed.

Cheers, Al

And, at the same time, a colleague pointed out Intrepid Teacher, which was closed due to complaints from parents, and the teacher subsequently resigned. That blog opens:

To Prospective Employers:

If you are reading this post, then you have most likely already read my cover letter, perused my resume, and now are probably left asking yourself why such an experienced, passionate teacher would resign from his current position. Below you will find my explanation:

As a Language Arts teacher, I try to inspire kids to think, reflect, analyze texts, and express themselves through writing and other media formats. I focus on these skills because I believe in the inherent power of literature and art to transform individuals and society. I believe that it is through communication and identification with other people ideas that we best learn how to become global citizens. I could go on and on, but let me just say that I practice what I teach-I believe in writing, so I write. For the last few years, I have been storing this writing on my personal blog.

Now, to be clear, it seems that these two blogs are under pressure for very different reasons, and the blogs themselves were serving very different purposes. And, I haven’t gone back and tried to read these blogs in detail to see what kind of things parents or principals might have found objectionable, if anything.

However, it’s interesting and sad to see these attempts to incorporate the most powerful contemporary learning tools foundering at the outset. Who is going to teach these skills otherwise? I do think that student blogging, in the first example, needs to be really thoughtfully considered and planned, but it’s surely worth doing? And the second example, where the teacher’s own creative life comes into contact or collision with their professional life, is one that might have occurred anyway, but the internet and its ‘to find out more, click here’, just makes more likely.

Some educators have opted for the ‘walled garden’, the in-house blogs that don’t get read outside the community, others argue that this isn’t ‘real’ blogging. Some schools are reluctant to put any of this data on external servers, even if they’re password protected and ‘secure’.

It’s corporation think. There was a good article in the AGE last week by Nicholas Carr called ‘Ready for the next digital revolution‘ which talked some nonsense, ‘Computer systems are not, at their core, technologies of emancipation. They are technologies of control’. I’d argue that they are, in fact neither.

Anyway, Carr makes a good point when he describes the dilemma companies have now as they (like the school bloggers) have to decide do they stay with traditional in-house control, or move to ‘cloud computing’, another term I don’t like!

Carr writes:

While smaller companies have strong economic incentives to embrace the full utility model quickly, most larger companies will need to carefully balance their past investments in in-house computing with the benefits provided by utilities. They can be expected to pursue a hybrid approach for many years, supplying some hardware and software requirements themselves and purchasing others over the grid.

One of the key challenges for corporate IT departments, in fact, lies in making the right decisions about what to hold on to and what to let go.

In the long run, the IT department is unlikely to survive, at least not in its familiar form. It will have little left to do once the bulk of the business of computing shifts out of private data centres and into “the cloud”. Business units and even individual employees will be able to control the process of information directly, without the need for legions of technical specialists.

For ‘It department’, substitute ‘school’. And think about it, not in terms of how much money the company is making, but something a whole lot more important.

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