Saturday, 28 July 2007

Is this happening in your part of the world?

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


  1. Hi Jacinta

    I'm in Australia, in Perth, and the story is the same here.

    Fear of litigation and lack of bandwidth are the two main reasons given... along with "equity" if you can believe it!

    Most frustrating... walking back in time as I walk into the classroom.

  2. Hi, litigation, duty of care of and of course bandwidth (pity those that lead us took no notice of the 100 reports they have had commissioned and not acted on).
    Equity - what the? How does denying learners, lecturers, teachers, mentors (whatever we are these days) access to tools that can enhance learning, are being adopted in the workplace and as such skills to learn/even mastering the art of change and adopting and adapting to it as quickly as possible, be in any way equitable.
    We are putting our learners and those aiding that learning and trying to enhance the learning experience in a prison. One not known to many now and certainly not one my teenage sons will cope with well. Thus my homeschooling my 16 year old using social networking tools and technologies as a sound base and boy is it wonderful. We are stagnating in this country because of traditionalist nonsense and no new blood being put into positions of power. You are right, we all walk back in time when entering a classroom, and the learners are imprisoned whilst within the same walls.
    How bad is it - have you seen a lecturer writing on acetate sheets with coloured markers, to use as overheads in a lecture of tute of late - I HAVE and can not see it stopping for sometime.


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