Saturday, March 31, 2007

Please Stand Back

I remember when I was a grad student in England, standing on the Britrail platform in Reading, waiting for the next train back to Oxford, when an official announced the imminent arrival of a high-speed train:
"The next train arriving at Platform 2 is a high-speed train. It will not be stopping at this station. Please stand back."
What a rush to see this train arriving seemingly at first coming toward the station at a pace no different than any other until it reached the platform--blur, wind,
--and then it was gone in a few seconds just as beningly.
The events of this week have reminded me of that instant. I was fortunate enough to attend the Teachers Teaching Teachers 2007 Conference in Cranberry, Pennsylvania and to discover new ways to use podcasting in the classroom (more about that in future posts) and seeing the store of educational content(including audios, videos, handouts, images), available freely from iTunes. (That was the rush.) The rub is all this will have to be done at home (at least for awhile) and copied onto players and CDs since my school doesn't have iTunes software. That's the "Please Stand Back."
Right now, it's a point of discussion at my school as to how much of the information highway should be accessible. We have a filtering system designed to keep oooh content (offensive, objectionable, obscene) away from students and staff. Daily, the most frequent screenshot on my computer at my desk tends to be the filter "access denied" screen as I either try to show students to sites valuable to literary research or to my own queries in preparation for lessons(educational blogs, professorial websites, images, videos,
Indeed, we don't want anything from cyberbullying to stalking occuring online at school not to mention elsewhere. But like dolphins in the tuna, good content is prohibited everyday from getting to teachers and students that is not only appropriate for the classroom, but free, interesting, and relevant. An addition to my afterwork hours of planning and prep. Of course, we want to protect our children from harm, but to ignore potential and necessary good that will come from technology and its instruction is also something of which I'd like not to be culpable. Preparing our students to succeed in a global economy that will have a digital infrastructure must needs begin here.
So, we are "standing back" today to ponder the best policy, we might not be going backward literally, yet to stand still can mean so. The high-speed train of technology is a blur. In the meantime, I along with colleagues and students wait for the local and work out the kinks of blogging, podcasting, and the "next." No doubt, it will take some perseverance, and courage to get on board and stay on track, but the destination is tomorrow.

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