Hi All,

I am just a little curious as to what is happening outside Australia, with regards to the freedom of access learners have to social networking tools, whilst learning within an institution (physical).

2007 has seen an increase in negative publicity related to myspace and youtube in particular. I do not have the statistics, but from my searching it appears that a fear campaign began in late 2006 and continues still. A campaign to scare parents into blocking their children from these sites, taking them away from a world they belong too, yet are torn away from it, due to a media campaign designed to support educational policy and practice nationwide. Policy and Practice, that is now seeing educational institutions at all levels in Australia, blocking learner access whilst on campus to the most popular social networking sites.

Most will say that this is a preventative measure and must be done to protect the learners whilst within their charge. I do not dispute this, as it can be a dangerous world, if used in an uneducated fashion, however surely recognition must be given to the FACT that the world of learning and learners has changed and has for some time. Instead of blocking these sites/tools, why not embrace their worlds, learn about their worlds through their eyes, engage with the learners through these tools, all learning together and guiding the learners into safe and responsible use of their worlds, to minimize the potential for any harm.

So protection is what they say loudly, but I have confirmation from one TAFE that another reason was definitely one of the amount of bandwidth those social networking sites, in the top 5, took up.

Only now in Australia does there appear to be any movement in relation to rapidly expanding the bandwidth throughout the nation, so as not to be left behind in the new worlds that are evolving and others still emerging. Those being used already, by academics, scientists, learners of all forms, business people, many businesses - industry that we in TAFE are supposed to be providing, current and relevant learning, yet we are blocking the very tools, many of our learners will be required to work with or others that emerge in the future. Maybe it is me but it does not make any sense.

How can we claim to be providing education of the highest standard, when we dare to retard the learning available to our clients.

My personal opinion is that Australia, is rapidly losing ground in the education arena on a global scale, due to bandwidth issues, forcing institutions into adopting a block mentality, stagnating the learning offered and creating a false reality, where technology and its tools are of little importance, lectures, textbooks, assignments and exams, still held on a large pedestal, ignoring and neglecting to prepare learners for the now and how to adopt and adapt with whatever the future online brings.

I may be wrong and hope that I am. I would really appreciate hearing from anyone else on this subject, especially those from outside of Australia.

Sharing your thoughts, opinions, experiences, learning, with us all would be sensational.

Jacinta

Views: 8

Comment by Durff on July 29, 2007 at 10:11pm
Interesting thoughts. How are you personally reacting?
Comment by Jacinta Gascoigne on July 29, 2007 at 10:51pm
Hi Durff and hey thanks for reading my rambles.

I am totally unimpressed with what is happening in Australia. I see it as those in the educational policy and practice decision making seats, as somewhat ignorant and arrogant.

I am currently at a cross road when it comes to my future. Whilst I love lecturing (not that I like to lecture as if thrown in a lecturer theatre with students, I end up playing the role of Ricki Lake - Yikes), I am struggling to work amongst a majority within the Business Services Centre, some of whom are still stuggling to use email.
Last year I brought myspace to life in the classroom and auditorium - thought it appropriate considering I work across the marketing, advertising and international business areas. The students loved it, we learnt so much together (me more than them I would say), they gained an understanding of 'safe practice' and why they needed to be vigilant and responsible for the worlds or enviroments they create. We all gained knowledge and experience by working together to create a myspace that would allow us all to connect with businesses, experts and the like in the music arena (marketing perspective).
What I realised was that the students last year, indeed had a web identity, each as unique and interesting as the people, behind the web identity.
There was a definite feeling that they were comfortable, in fact right at home, using myspace in a different way than they had before (for social reasons), collaborating to create a variety of strategies and tactics, that they could employ to grow the environment. They and I made mistakes - yes mistakes and it was okay to do so, or that is what I thought and they relished the freedom, that allowed them the time to think, practice, enjoy success, enjoy the failures as without them, the learning would not in my eyes, have been as great.
So, I thought all was well, until I was absent for a couple of days and another staff member (who had only been in the teaching service for a semester, before that, she was the administration assistant to my boss), covered my classes. It was reported back to management that my students had no idea what they were doing, their was a lack of structure and I must have been doing nothing when in class, but let them mess around on the computers.
My arse was kicked, I was told to teach as I should be teaching - my tools to be, class handouts, overhead projectors (yes still the old kind), some DVP's, text books, exams.
The way I was to practice in the classroom, that of the sage on the stage, who believed that through the power of osmosis, everything that came out of my mouth, would magically be imprinted in their minds (at least until after exams).
I have not adopted the methodology others would see me adopt and honestly I have never been conventional in my teaching, as when I tried, I bored myself.
So, I continue in somewhat of a cone of silence to bring in social networking tools/sites as much as possible and where relevant to the learning. Those staff that have an idea what I am doing, look at me, how do I say this - interestingly as if I am some curiosity and very odd, but to date I have had no further comment.

What I hope to do through collaborating with others in the network, is to develop strategies that we can all adopt and adapt. Strategies, Actions, Tactics and more that will help all, who face roadblocks within their educational settings.
I would like to see others share their experiences and in doing so, point to the work they and the learners have completed or are works in progress, giving those who have little, no, or do not want an understanding of the many benefits contained within the myriad of sites.
If we could work on a small project where educators and learners globally could connect, one with a serious outcome and in line with the learning required, we would have one of the first examples of best practice to show the rest of the world.

Okay, I have to stop the ramble.

In short:
I reacted badly
My learners did are reacting badly
I continue down my path with my learners with a shroud of secrecy.
I am determined to see social networking tools, web 2.0, web 3.0 and what is to come in the future, integrated into the learning of the learners at all levels in Australia - I can not do it alone though - I need help from anyone who would like to be part of another adventure and journey in the world of the web and it's place in learning.

Jacinta

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