Thoughts on Al Upton

The issue of Al Upton and his classroom blog being closed down by education authorities, has been a popular topic of conversation among the ECI 831 group. In fact, this seems to be a known issue amongst technology people all over the globe. I thought I would take this opportunity to note some of my thoughts .

At first I thought he blog was shut down because something bad happened. I soon realized this did not seem to be the case. Many thoughts and opinions seemed to be that authorities in Australia were flexing some administrative muscle for no reason. Maybe they just did not understand the whole “techie” thing. Basically, I kept thinking that there has to be some valid reason for the blog shutdown that has not been made public.

I figured that there must be some kind of safety issue. Why else would authorities shut the blog down?

However, the details are still somewhat murky. As I read Dean’s blog, he commented on the issue as well. I think we both felt that the mini-legends blog could not have been shut down w/o reason. Was this a case where an educator used bad judgment and put students at risk? I needed to know more.

I then found a recorded broadcast that recently discussed this issue with none other than Al Upton himself. You can access it here. Basically, Al says he is not totally sure why the blog was shut down either. Authorities are possibly concerned about the level of world contact the students have made with others around the world. They each have their own blogs, use their real first name and pics, but do not use surnames. He has students partnered with others around the world who act as mentors in learning. Even though students have their own blogs, Al himself moderates all emails, posts, etc. The blog is basically an evolution over a four year period.

Al reports that no irate parents have come forward with concerns or students. In fact, he says he found out about this through his principal. Basically, all the communication from the authorities have come through his principal, nothing direct with Al himself. It kind of sounds like this issue involving employees at the SSBA, that is, regarding communication.

Also, the actual lockdown of the blog was done by Al. He states, that he did it basically in the interests of students and through mutual discussion with his principal, who seems to support him. No official order was given. From the broadcast, I got the feeling that AL felt it was best to do this until the issue was resolved. He personally has gone through the blogs and their content since, and could not find anything problematic (in his opinion).

Since I started a class blog, for this course, I have been interested in this development. I hope I am providing the proper amount of security for my students, as well as a unique learning opportunity. But if someone does not like the internet (eg. a parent), does having a blog provide enough evidence for a parent to complain and get it shut down? Clarence Fisher comments on the Upton case and others (as stated previously) in this post.

We all are concerned about safety of students as educators. We do not want to see events arise such as this one. As an administrator, we want to provide the opportunity for educators to implement new ideas and initiatives, without having making it so difficult that the educator eventually abandons the idea. However, guidelines are important.

Internet safety, educator freedom, cutting edge teaching, valuable student learning?

Please leave your thought(s) in the comment area.

    • Dean Miezianko
    • March 24th, 2008

    Dave thanks for the links. I’ll be checking them out because I’m sure there is something that I am missing on this event.

    • marlene gillanders
    • March 25th, 2008

    David, don’t you think anytime something new is introduced, especially in education,one is taking a risk? People may or may not like it for various reasons, and especially when it’s dealing with students.

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