Chooser Charts - do you know what's there?
Reading Ewan's post 'We don't know what we don't know we don't know' reminds me of the last session I had with my students before they embarked upon their final teaching experience of the crowded year called 'PGCE'.
I spoke to them of embedding ICT in curriculum contexts and reminded them that they couldn't hope to do this effectively if they were not aware of the tools that they would have at their command. I urged them to get in there and seek out the tools, both hard and software that the schools had available and then, as they planned their programmes, begin to look for opportunities where ICT was going to enhance the teaching and learning. I commented that it wasn't all 'whiteboards and PowerPoint'!
In a way this, is what Ewan is saying about the 'stopping and blocking'. Teachers can't hope to know what is there if they can't, in the first place, access it to find out. Whitelisting is all well and good but does not take into account the spontaneity of great teachers teaching and wanting immediate access to the things of 'today'. If great teachers planned everything down to the last click then they would not be great teachers and the creativity that makes them great would be lost.
Whitelisting will only provide access to the normal and usual, not the exciting and tenuous. It will have the ability - like the Readers Digest - to dumb everything down almost to a precis level - like watching the cartoon video of Macbeth rather than reading the play. It is like using a vocabulary from a wordlist so that all the writing becomes the same. It is utilitarian, not creative and very, very sterile.
A teacher was heard to say in a history lesson recently ... there are some great videos about the Blitz on YouTube. Go home and watch them! ... Even more recently I came across a group using a Vodophone dongle to access sites on one personal laptop so that they could then copy the bits they needed to a USB key so that they could use the information in a lesson in the afternoon ... this was done on the field, at lunch time.
Teachers, educators, children and students are beginning to develop a 'thing' about doing their learning and preparation 'out of school time'. This surely cannot be sustainable. Soon the 'buyers'(the learners) in this deal will be bypassing (if they don't already) the institutions. There could be a real market here for companies to develop to support independent learners!
There is no quick, simple answer to this in the present climate in schools but as Ewan again notes: Elsewhere, such as in the schools I saw in New Zealand, the politik might be to filter after the fact, and use the Acceptable Use Policy for what it was designed: to pull up those who abuse the freedom the net (should) offer. Around the world there are many, many dedicated teachers doing everything that they can to open up information for education. The institutions must, more clearly, play their part. Learners should not be tethered by their geography nor by decisions made 'protect systems' rather than to facilitate learning.
We are already into the eighth year of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child which states in Article 13:
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
The key to implementation of this is at the end of the first bullet: 'of the child's choice'.
All of the things we discuss are in the name of the child ... time to make it work for them. It is their lives, their world, their choice. We are privileged to be there to help.