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Web 2.0 and School Administrators
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Catching Up
Topic: Emerging Technologies

It has been an incredibly busy month. I've been so busy doing that I haven't taken the time to blog about it. That's okay. I think I'm learning that sometimes something simply has to give. And this has been where I've been able to let go briefly.

I fly to Atlanta on Saturday for NECC and am looking forward to everything but the heat and humidity the forecast is promising. In getting ready for a workshop I'll be presenting Tuesday, I revisited skrbl.com.  This beta site offers a free online interactive whiteboard. I played around with it briefly, but found it somewhat clunky (guess that's why it's beta). But this time I discovered a new feature I'll be using during the workshop. It's call a Graffiti Board and it can either be embedded on a web page or users can use a link to reach it. I see real possibilities for this is workshops when I want participants to have a chance to share ideas collaboratively without having to sign up for some kind of account first. Anyway, I'm linking to a sample here. Try it out! Click on the 'A' button to type text or on the pencil button to draw.

 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 8:21 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007 5:26 PM PDT
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Presentation on Cyberbullying
Topic: Leadership Issues

Scott McLeod has posted a Breeze slide show called Administrator's Guide to Cyberbullying. I encourage you to view and share this timely presentation.

Thanks, Scott! 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 3:47 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 May 2007 3:50 PM PDT
The Guerrilla Season book blog
Topic: Classroom Blogging

I'm always looking for good examples of classroom use of blogs. I found the Guerrilla Season book blog awhile ago and have shared the site with a number of educators.

Now teacher Eric Langhorst has posted a video clip on Teacher Tube that describes how this project works. You can also download the clip here:

Download: Posted by speakingofhistory at TeacherTube.com.

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 3:23 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 May 2007 3:28 PM PDT
Webtools for Educators Wiki
Topic: E-Communication

I'll be using the Webtools for Educators wiki at a couple of conferences during the first two weeks of June. If you haven't visited the wiki in a while, there are a number of additions, both tools and examples. Check it out!

Also, as you're looking, if you notice that I've left out something, please feel free to add it. Helpful comments and feedback on existing resources are also welcome. The password is webtools.

Looking forward to any and all contributions!

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 3:14 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 29 May 2007 3:16 PM PDT
Friday, 11 May 2007
Having a Cell Phone at School Is not a Constitutional Right
Topic: Leadership Issues

I'm a couple of days behind on this, but the NY State Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that students do not have a constitutional right to have cell phones at school and parents do not have a constitutional right to expect that their children should be allowed to have a cell phone at school. The decision did include a statement that it is reasonable for schools to ban disruptive devices.

I'm of two minds with this. The digital immigrant in me is amazed me that elementary age children have cell phones at all. I raised two kids who managed to get into high school before a cell phone became a must-have accessory. Even then, taking them to school was not an option. By the same token, I didn't raise my children in post 9-11 New York City and realize that I might have a completely different view of connectivity if I were. I cannot imagine how I would feel about being able to reach my children 24/7 under those circumstances. So while I understand that teachers do not want their classes disrupted by cell phones, I also think that parents' concerns need to be honored.

I think that cell phones may be the chewing gum of the 21st century. They're easy to conceal, ubiquitous, and it may be that no matter how many rules and regulations educators establish, they will find that a cell phone ban is impossible to enforce. And unlike gum, as cell phones become increasing sophisticated there are ways they can be used as tools for teaching and learning.

This is a starfish vs. spider situation. If you don't know what I'm referring to, check out this link and consider reading the book. There are ways we could be dealing with this that don't involve absolute bans and might actually be productive.

So...I'm thinking that we need to reevaluate our stand on this technology in schools. While I think it's unrealistic to ban them completely, I believe that rules for usage can be established and enforced. 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 11:01 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007 11:04 AM PDT
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Getting a Grip on Second Life
Topic: Emerging Technologies

I joined Second Life (SBY Writer) at the urging of a couple of friends and have attended a couple of virtural activities. The first was a tour of a museum and the second was a discussion about how something like Second Life might impact K-12 education.

The tour was interesting, once I figured out how to walk, sit, and transport. The discussion last night was tougher. What I encountered was the same thing that puts me off chat rooms, TappedIn, and other online synchronous discussions. There were 6 or 7 people involved in the discussion, but it seemed more like a free-for-all than a conversation. Folks either talked over one another with a bunch of different ideas being put out there all at the same time, or everyone sat quietly. Is there a convention for online conversations involving that many people, or is it typically every avatar for him/herself? Right now, I find that I'm mostly interested in figuring out how to have a really cool outfit and not be homeless!

Seriously, I think I understand why kids find this so engaging, but I do see that I have a steep learning curve for myself. Where to find the time??? 

 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 1:10 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007 1:12 PM PDT
Monday, 7 May 2007
Copyright and Blogging
Topic: Leadership Issues

Hmmm....guess this is the price I pay for not blogging for three weeks! All of a sudden there are a zillion things I want to get posted here. This is the last for today though...other work beckons.

School administrators need to read and share this information about blogging and legal issues (copyright). It is posted on the Aviva Directory and the post is called 12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know.

It looks good to me, based on my limited knowledge of the law. Maybe Scott McLeod will read this and have something to add... 

BTW, congrats on the new job, Scott! 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 2:38 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 2:40 PM PDT
Exercising Common Sense Online
Topic: Leadership Issues

When working with folks on cyber ethics issues, they often ask for specific examples of inappropriate postings on blogs or MySpace coming back to haunt someone. So...here's a link to an article about one of the most recent cases.

Here's what's been reported. Last year Millersville University refused to grant a young woman (now aged 27) her teaching degree because of a picture that was posted on her MySpace page. In the photo she was shown at a 2005 Halloween party dressed like a pirate and drinking from a plastic cup. The picture was captioned 'Drunken Pirate.' 

The university did give her a degree in English, but officials apparently believed that this photo promoted under-aged drinking so they refused to grant the teaching degree. The young woman has recently filed suit.

This is a case where I think both sides need to get a grip. On the student's part...yes, she was 25 when the photo was taken and not doing anything illegal. But is it really cool to post a photo bragging about being drunk? I think if you truly want people to take you seriously enough to give you a job that has great responsibility, best to ditch the plastic cup and caption!

As for the university...while she demonstrated poor judgment, was this photo really so dangerous that the student deserved to lose her credential before she even got it? She didn't break state laws. Was she violating a university code of conduct? What about her behavior and work over time? Was she otherwise a responsible student and good teaching candidate?

I think the student will win this one. However, I also think this can serve as a cautionary tale... 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 2:13 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 2:18 PM PDT
New Report from Pew
Topic: Leadership Issues

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has issued a new report called A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users. The purpose of the survey discussed in this document was to identify which segments of the American population are likely to make robust use of Web 2.0 tools for information and communication, and which are not. In general they found:

  • The elite users of ICTs consist of four groups that have the most information technology, are heavy and frequent users of the internet and cell phones and, to varying degrees, are engaged with user-generated content. Members of these groups have generally high levels of satisfaction about the role of ICTs in their lives, but thegroups differ on whether the extra availability is a good thing or not.
  • The middle-of-the-road users consist of two groups whose outlook toward information technology is task-oriented. They use ICTs for communication more than they use it for self-expression. One group finds this pattern of information technology use satisfying and beneficial, while the other finds it burdensome.
  • For those with few technology assets (four groups), modern gadgetry is at or near the periphery of their daily lives. Some find it useful, others don’t, and others simply stick to the plain old telephone and television.

The Summary of Findings includes a chart that further describes each sub-group of the three main groups.

Why is this important for educators? I think the information presented here can be very useful when dealing with staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders and trying to get a grip of conflicting viewpoints and priorities about technology use in general.

The report is available in PDF format. 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 9:20 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 9:23 AM PDT
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Web 2.0 Quick Takes
Topic: Emerging Technologies

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was at a TICAL project meeting the end of last week. If you're not familiar with this group, visit the portal. The idea is that this is a Web-based resource for school administrators, created by current and recent school administrators. I've worked with the group since 2000.

One area where the cadre is beefing up the portal is through original content.  This is manifested in a variety of ways, including short Breeze presentations (10-20 minutes) that cover a number of different topics that can be used by administrators for personal growth or to share with staff. One cadre member mentioned that 10-20 minutes is often just too long. He wants 2-3 minute presentations that can be used to give a quick overview of a topic in addition to the longer options.

So, I'm going to create a series of Quick Takes presentations including:

  • What Is a Blog? 
  • What Is a Wiki?
  • What Is Social Networking?

And more. I'll keep you posted on when each is ready and available. What Is a Blog? Is nearly done. 

Are there other Quick Takes you'd like to see? 

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Posted by sjbrooks_young at 10:24 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007 10:28 AM PDT

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