What’s the world got to teach us?
As my classes explore Web 2.0 (and even just plain old 1.0 internet resources) we frequently get into discussions about how “we can’t do that in my school-every blog, wiki, fill-in-the-blank, is blocked!” This makes me think about one of the most memborable trips I’ve taken, which was a trip to England were I got to tour several schools in different communities and at different levels.
The biggest surprise of the trip was that none of the schools I visited had particularly good school libraries and most didn’t have anybody serving in the role of school librarian. I always think of England as such a book-rich country-when you’re sitting on the tube or a bus or a train people are always reading. Sadly I guess they don’t get that habit from great school libraries.
The next great surprise to me was how extensively technology was being used by students-and being used in an independent way. Some of the schools had taken odd little rooms (almost like oversized closets) and turned them into computer rooms for a wing of classrooms. Students from all classrooms would be working in the computer lab without any adult supervision. In one school they’d taken an old storage building in the school courtyard and turned it into the school computer club. Students in the 6th form (like 5th/6th graders) were in charge and did all of the supervision as students from all classes came out to work on special projects in the computer club building. Just this week I read a short article in TechLearning that reported on a visit made by a group to Scandinavia-they too were struck by how much freedom students were given when it came to using technology intelligently and independently.
We do a lot as media specialists to help our students and teachers understand many ethical issues like copyright and plagiarism but how can we take the conversation to the next level and find ways to make these technologies accessible to our students and teachers? How many of you have to read this blog at home b/c it’s blocked at school? How have we gotten to the place where we can’t use tools that we believe will contribute to student learning b/c we live in a climate of fear and restriction? How do some schools manage to get past this?