Sunday, May 11, 2008

Reasons to Promote Engaging Technologies Even Though Schools Filter Them

Below are two comments from The Innovative Educator network’s newest member that eloquently demonstrates the importance of Social Networking for Educators and other tools such as these.

Comment left on My Page
Maria said…
Thank you, Lisa, very much for creating this site. It is so needed. We, teachers, don't always have a chance to exchange ideas with each other. I have to also add that the quality of your work is very high. Thanks again :)

From the Science Forum Discussion Board
Reply by Maria
Thank you :) this is the best question an elementary science teacher could ask. I am bursting with answers and shaking. I hope I will be finally heard. Thank you.

These comments literally gave me goose bumps!!! How amazing is it that there is now a forum that caused an educator to be bursting with answers and shake with excitement that she will *finally* be heard??? This is why I promote the idea of teaching educators to use social networks and other 21st Century tools.

After I first wrote about Social Networking for Innovative Educators many of my colleagues like the one in this email asked why I advocated using technologies that are filtered in most schools and can be used inappropriately by students. It's comments like Maria's or the one a principal recently shared with me that make it clear. As this principal shared, “We wouldn’t remove stairs from a building just because students can fall down them. We teach them to walk, not run. Use the handrail and have signs for an up staircase and down.”

Teaching educators how to use technologies like Social Networking is important for many reasons including the fact that we must prepare our students and teachers not only for life within schools walls, but also for life outside the school walls. Additionally to be cybersafety-minded educators, it is important to be comfortable operating in environments in which our digital natives students are fluent. It is also important that we model safe, acceptable, appropriate, and professional use. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to inform teachers about the little known fact that most districts have a block or unblock a website form and I share the NYC DOE link on how to do this with them.

Giving educators an ability to use technologies that enable them to connect with others with whom they can begin building personal learning networks, is powerful. Perhaps even more important is that technologies like blogs and social networks provide educators with a much-needed, but often missing voice, that is kept that way in school districts like mine that have mandates in place to ensure this. But now Maria is bursting with answers and shaking with excitement that she will *finally* be heard. Doesn't that say it all???


  1. Oh yes, I completely agree with you :) No filters or prohibitions can stop the progress and learning :) I am a strong believer in education instead of prohibitions or filters. There are too many people who think that prohibitions and punishments work. In reality fear is the worst enemy of learning and progress, including the fear of being sued.
    Bad rules only create hypocrisy and train the kids that lying is OK. Unfortunately, too many kids who cannot conform see the drop out as the only solution.
    Am I going too far? But this is what I am thinking about since I read your yesterday’s blog and this one too.
    Oh ya, I wouldn’t raise my hand either :)

  2. I do like the saying about how we wouldn't not install staircases in schools just because kids might fall down them.

    I think we fear in part that our kids will be exposed to influences on the web that we can't control and could be detrimental which in turn could reflect badly on us. We've never had to give students as much freedom in the educational process as we do today, and many fear that it will bring chaos, not learning into students' lives.

    What I think we need to embrace as a community are the ways we can become familiar with what our students already think they are familiar with. Many educators I know often shrug off technology with a sigh saying their students know more than they do as if it were hopeless to catch up.

    What most who are not "tech savvy" (and I have my own definition for that) do not realize is our students know a couple of tools exist with very simple interfaces, and they've picked up a trick or 2 but ultimately the vast majority are not aware of the dangers or the benefits and dangers of everything out there, nor do they know how to find new tools on their own or effectively pursue other interests - they are in a word - lost.

    We would be silly to not acknowledge the reality that our kids are going online whether they're in school or not, and educating them in how to live in this world falls to us as their educators - and given the nature of social networking we will now need to act more as guidance as we show students where to explore on their own.

    It won't be easy especially for those who haven't been keeping up with the techie trends but I recommend an article by Doug Johnson and Joyce Valenza in the recent technology issue of School Library Journal - it tells you how to get up to speed in just 15 minutes a day!

    We love socializing, our kids do too, we just need to be aware of the pitfalls and how we as educators can avoid them, and what our students need to know to protect themselves.

  3. To Michael I can add even more: whatever I know about socializing in the cyber space I owe my children and my students. They taught me about role playing and creating a character. They taught me what "lol" is, and "brb" and :) and :( and many, many more things.
    My kids taught me not to take some things online too seriosly, my students taught me how to use my space. I am for ever grateful to them for being cooperative learners for sharing their knowledge and understanding and for the laughs and the jokes.
    I remember my first year using Power Point Presentations :) every new button we found we showed the rest of the class. It was great.