In my recent post, Why I am bothering with Safer Internet Day I mentioned obliquely that I had come to realise how lucky I am to work in Brimingham. I want to say it more directly now.
I've spent a good part of today travelling to two schools, one in Worcestershire, one in Herefordshire. The purpose was so that their students and my students could blog together during a project we're about to start. The project itself has nothing to do with blogging, but we thought it would be a great way for the children who are engaged in the project to keep up with what each other is doing. You can find out more at scalextric.posterous.com
In Worcestershire, the learning platform (Uniservity) has been mastered heroically by the staff and students of this particularly school, but its complexities made today's activities tricky. With the children already having two layers of logins to remember, I didn't want them to have to remember a third login for a separate blog platform, so I chose to use Posterous as the blog platform - that way the children could e-mail directly from their learning platform into the blog. However something funny with how their e-mail works means that they receive e-mail at one address, but send from a completely different address. And the address is really quite complicated, including an alpha-numeric code at the start and a site with 6 parts joined with 2 hyphens and 3 dots. Not only that, but when they send, Worcestershire attaches a 6 line disclaimer, including a phone number and e-mail address - each blog entry ends up with that added on to the content.
In Herefordshire, they have no county-wide learning platform, but instead the particular school uses Windows Live supplied and managed by their local secondary school. For free. What a great arrangement! When I was there the teacher rang up the tech guy at the secondary who fixed a problem within 5 minutes. Brilliant. However Herfordshire County Council so lock everything down, that even thought he children could e-mail to the blog, they couldn't actually see it - it was blocked by the firewall. And not only that, but Youtube and Google Image Search were also blocked. The teacher explained how when he wanted to use video he either had to rely on the BBC or find what he wanted and spend considerable time downloaded it so that he could bring in the specific video he wanted as a learning resource.
But I'm not going to pass judgement on all that, because I'm sure there are some great reasons for all of the above. The support and service for schools is probably fantastic. Or something.
Instead I want to thank the authorities in Birmingham for freeing up Youtube and Google Image Search so that we have great teaching resources at our fingertips. Thanks for allowing us access to all the main blogging platforms so that our children can collaborate and learn together. Thanks for freeing up Twitter so that I can keep in touch with my PLN while at school. Thanks for giving us freedom to choose our own learning platforms and not imposing a single e-mail solution on all schools. And maybe with the new ASA online advertising rules we may even get Facebook in the future... who knows? Anyway, thanks Brum.
Are you pleased with your local setup? Come on there must be something good about it... Let me know what's ACE about your LA.