The Inaugural Beginning to my Research Trip to the US
Tomorrow afternoon I fly to America with my Principal Stephen Harris, and colleague Gilbert van der Jagt.
The theme of our two week trip is 'innovation'. We want to see schools that are taking non-traditional approaches to education. We've been planning the trip for some time, researching various places over the Internet, and I've been particularly involved in locating schools in Philadelphia and New York.
I must confess, I am no geographer. When I first met with my boss about the trip he had to explain to me what cities in America were where in America. I really didn't know.
This is the diagram he drew for me on that day:
Needless to say I left the meeting still rather confused. It is probably a good thing he didn't label any of his dots.
Anyway, here is where we're going:
The Ron Clarke Academy, Atlanta (we'll attend their conference)
The 2008 T+L Conference, Seattle
Illinois Maths and Science Academy, Illinois
The Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia
Delaware County Christian School, Pennsylvania
IS 339, the Bronx, New York
The Beacon School, New York
School of the Future, New York
Suffern High School, New York
I must warn you, I intend to blog quite madly during the trip, and document my personal experiences along with my professional observations. I'll put it all up here as I go, on the move, and then sort it out into better order when I get back to Australia. This is a sharp break with my normal blogging mentality of blogging occasionally but with care and attention.
I'll even try to stream live video when I can using http://www.ustream.com.
I'll send text messages using Twitter. See them at www.twitter.com/steve_collis
A Note About Mobile Phone Roaming in America:
I've done a lot of research about this in preparation for my trip. What I really wanted was for my HTC TyTN 2 phone to work in the US. Now, it's not too hard to get the phone component to work, although it's not cheap, but to get an Internet connection too (for email and sending messages on Twitter) costs a fortune. $20, Australia, per megabyte!
There are services that let you rent a SIM card, or an entire mobile phone, but they really only offer it for phone calls, not for an Internet connection - with one or two exceptions that are as expensive as me simply using my own mobile phone.
So what is one to do? I thought we were all hyper connected but I can't take my phone overseas and expect to use it without paying a mint.
What I finally have settled on, is renting a USB Wireless Internet card - from these guys. This will cost about $150 US for the fortnight, and give me unlimited data on my laptop. I'm going to try using Skype to make phone calls. I'm quite relieved to have found this solution, because I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms simply at the thought of being disconnected from the Matrix for 14 days, during a really exciting time of my life.