Sometime last year before my trip to Australia, I discovered the amazing work Al Upton was doing with year 3 students at at Adelaide Australia primary school. The 8 and 9 year old “miniLegends” were blogging, doing creative writing, and getting a fabulous experience in web technology.
So it was exciting this year when Al put out a call via twitter for educators around the world to be “coaches” for this year’s miniLegends, asking people to adopt one students and agree to provide regular comments/feedback. Besides signing up myself, I echoed the call and a bunch of folks, particularly my colleagues here in Arizona, stepped right up.
Al had written before how he had taught students how to be safe online and how he had gotten written permission from parents of all the kids. Let me repeat this- the parents supported this program.
And like many people who had followed this, I am utterly crushed that that the local government is the Bigger Mommy, has superseded the parental decision and ordered Al to close his entire site (not only this years project but previous ones- strangely enough the Internet Archive lacks most of Al’s blog history. hmmmmm).
This blog has been disabled in compliance with DECS wishes (Department of Education and Children’s Services – South Australia)
It seems that this blog in particular is being investigated regarding risk and management issues. What procedures should be taken for the use/non-use of blogs to enhance student learning will be considered.
Since his project was hosted on edublogs.org, we can only guess Big Mommy came down hard on Al.
I am willing to consider that from outside, I may not have all of the local context and concern. Would it help to have had a background check? Perhaps the DECS has documented a verifiable risk (as opposed to a presumed/assumed one). Maybe it would have been less “risky” without using the students photos (they were identified by first name only).
But they way I see it, the regional government is over-riding parental decisions, and is being the Bigger Mommy. Is that the future, the model we wish these 8 and 9 year olds to learn from? And the work that Al had done previously was a model used, referenced by educators around the world, who will no longer have access to the work.
So Al is racking up a huge number of supportive comments on his closed blog. Is that enough? And most of all, what have these students learned from this experience?