School change down under

by Steve Wyckoff on April 30, 2010

I have no idea what the school change movement looks like in Australia, but I did get to speak to a class of perspective educators last evening. I was sitting comfortably in my living room, in my recliner, with my laptop on my lap. At the same time my good friend Ian Gibson was in front of the class in Sydney Australia. I occasionally Skype into his glass to have a conversation on some educational topic.

I tell you this because it is actually fascinating. We are approximately 11,000 miles apart, as the crow flies, yet having a conversation like we are sitting in the same room together.

This morning I had a conference call on Skype with a group of educators in Kansas to discuss an upcoming conference. One of the discussions centered on a communication problem we are having. The school where the conference is being hosted does not allow the use of Skype. It’s blocked. The network Nazi’s will not allow its use.

In fact, the representative of the aforementioned school district has to join these conference calls from home, because she’s not allowed to Skype from her office.

Think about it. We have the technology to connect individuals anywhere in the world. In fact that’s how the real world operates. But not schools. Okay, I understand we have to be careful what and who we expose children to … no pun intended. But there are ways to protect the safety of kids and still use the technology to connect anywhere in the world.

If we really want to achieve school change and bring them into the 21st century we are going to have to figure out how to use 21st-century tools AND protect the safety of our kids. In my mind it is not an option to simply say they can’t use the tools. However, it appears that in the minds of school administrators is perfectly acceptable to completely isolate our kids from the realities of the world. – Steve Wyckoff

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