New Rochelle Schools IT Director Christine Coleman seems to spend a great deal of her time figuring out ways to block popular web sites — so much so that the “web” as it exists within the public schools in New Rochelle is virtually useless as an education tool. Coleman will tell you every bad thing that can happen on the Internet as a justification for blocking just about every good thing on the Internet.
One can only hope she managed to make her way to down to Washington D.C., for last week’s annual National Educational Computing Conference. There is a lot she could have learned at some of the panel discussions.
Sessions covered topics like how to use cell phones within the classroom (they are considered contraband in New Rochelle schools), the use of interactive technology in schools as part of a “collaborative culture” and one which made use of a real-time chat session displayed on a screen behind the speaker which allowed people both in the room and those not attending the session to comment.
“Whether it’s a Wiki or Twitter, the notion of a participatory culture — upstream and downstream — is not going away,” Chris Lehman, the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, told the audience.
Not only is it not going away but this sort of real-time collaboration is becoming standard within the services industry which accounts for about 70% of the jobs in the U.S. economy. In Japan schools are giving out iPhones. Maine just placed an order to buy laptops for every student. Here we give away cheap netbooks which are basically $300 bricks without broadband Internet access which many students receiving the free mini-computers do not have.