Saturday, November 7, 2009

Should We Ban School Leaders From Embracing Technology?

My most popular Facebook status update ever. Over two dozen comments and counting...

Lisa Velmer Nielsen Looks like I rubbed off on this school leader who said in our grant eval report-Perhaps you could encourage the Chancellor to remove his ban of cell phone use because it is a good way to have students use technology to produce better educational outcomes. Yesterday at 10:57pm
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| Carol likes this.

Jeff
That's all fine and I agree but you have to remember who signs your check!
Yesterday at 11:00pm · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
I don't advocate that anyone not follow a mandate, but I do advocate for enlightening, inspiring, and informing my boss. I also hopeful I work for someone who believes he may be able to learn something from his employees and celebrates their voice. I think one day in the not too distant future it will seem unfathomable that we banned students from bringing their personal learning devices to school.
Yesterday at 11:04pm · Delete

Andy
He will come around if his comment during the week long School of One kick-off is any indication. Without explicitly saying it was a mistake, he hinted that perhaps he could have done things differently on this one. It might be worth some key folks broaching this subject with him on a whole new level
Yesterday at 11:10pm · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Andy, good to hear. I do believe he will indeedy come around. Kinda crazy that at the same time he was banning I was consulting with Roland Fryer's folks at the NYC DOE to determine ways cells could be used as ed tools. It's gotta change. He's smart enough to change his decision if provided proper evidence I think.
Yesterday at 11:12pm · Delete

Jeff
I am optimistic that we can change things, we use cell phones, ipod touches and laptops (1:1) in our school already. The major difference is that we are a high tech school using online curriculum and pbl as a model for our face to face classes.
Yesterday at 11:14pm · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Jeffrey, that's the key. Good examples and reasons for it. I don't think there were many until recently.
Yesterday at 11:15pm · Delete

Lynn
the new android phone is the kicker and the new evidence..
19 hours ago · Delete

Jeffrey
Lisa, I do agree with you about the potential of cell phones in school. However, whenever I have spoken to classroom teachers about it, most (by far) are against it. Food for thought.
13 hours ago · Delete

Ceci
With all innovative technologies there is the other side of safety. Have you researched the number of schools in NYC that have had safety incidents due to students having their cell phone in school. (texting their friends to gang up on students) This number unfortunately is very high. Until there is a safety plan that addresses all the other ... Read Moreissues that come along with students having cell phones in schools, I do not believe it will be endorsed by the administration for all schools. We may have some schools in the Innovation Zone lucky enough to pilot mobile technologies but I do not see a city wide implementation in the near future for all schools.
12 hours ago · Delete

Jon
It is up to teachers ultimately. As teachers begin co-opting this personal technology for use in schools, the rules will become irrelevant. It's not the chancellor's mandate that inhibits their use - it is the challenge teachers face with fear of inappropriate use, increased pressure to be accountable for students learning the basics, etc. As we ... Read Moreprovide teachers more suggestions for ways to use them (and support/encouragement in doing so) and their ubiquity becomes status quo, we will see them be adopted for classroom use regularly. It is an inevitability. It's like the teachers' union rule that mandates all schools must have a pay phone - is that rule really relevant anymore? Is anyone enforcing that? I imagine not. The technology will often move faster than the rules...
10 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Jeffrey, yes! Totally get that and have a nice plan for this that involves a small amount of professional development and the teachers starting by using cells as a homework option for the first ½ - whole year. Part of my issue is that this should be a school decision, not a mayoral or chancellor driven decision. If teachers/principals want to ... Read Moreembrace the potential of the power that exists in a students pocket they should be allowed. Another side of this Jeff, is that there are teachers stuck in the past that don’t want to use technology in general. Should the drive to use tech be teacher or student driven?
10 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Jeffrey, one more thing, in a school run by this leader who wants to incorporate innovative practices, it is unfortunate they are not allowed?
10 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Ceci, I very much disagree with this argument. Cells are a communication tool. Fights can be organized by texting sure, but they have also been organized simply by talking, passing notes, emails, or IMs. We shouldn... Read More’t be banning the tools i.e. paper, computers, freedom of speech, but instead inform the behavior. The other side of this is of course, the frequency that lives are saved because someone has a cell phone or was in danger. Finally, if we make student’s world in schools look so different than outside, then we are turning our backs to the fact that we haven’t prepared them for the world in which they live and the world where they will pay their three bucks after school to get their phone out of the local bodega.
9 hours ago · Delete

Jeffrey
Jon, I think you are correct in the ultimate inevitability of cell phones in the classroom; same happened with many preceding technologies (albeit without a system wide prohibition). I still would like to hear the opinions of classroom teachers in this thread, though. I am sure many would be willing to use cells, but i believe many many more would... Read More not.

Lisa, I like the idea of first using cells as a homework option, and being a school option. Start in a small, volunteer, nonthreatening way. Build up a base and a consensus.
8 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Jeffrey, I agree with your on target approach. It is very Chris Lehmann-esque. It should be an option and voluntary...at least to start. A big part of what I believe is that we should empower schools to be innovative, not ban them from innovation. Eventually, though, schools must be required to have the world inside the brick and mortar look more ... Read Morelike the world outside it. If we don't, we will be enforcing the cliche of preparing kids for our past rather than their present and then sadly schools will continue to be irrelevant to the lives of students.
46 minutes ago · Delete

Sheldon
Think about it. Cell phones are banned because rather then make school more interesting they attack the symptom. Another example of how long a path we have to travel before the kids become important.
8 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Sheldon, so happy even a retired guy gets it :))))
No wonder we connected so well since my very first days in this field :-D
8 hours ago · Delete

Lynn
I do think they should start making it a school leaders decision. This needs to be all or nothing and its not appropriate for one teacher to do this. You need the whole school on board.
8 hours ago · Delete

Ceci
I figured you would disagree lisa, my suggestion would be to step out and be at one of the schools during dismissal that have daily safety issues that result from students texting outside of school during the day and see the issues from a principals perspective. If you want the name of a couple of schools to visit I would be glad to share them ... Read Morewith you.

Mobile technolgies should be explored and integrated into daily instruction, but that does not mean it is the right solution for every school.
7 hours ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Celine, I agree that it is not the right solution for "some" schools, but blanket policies and mandates for all are dangerous and halt progress. Especially in a time of empowerment, shouldn't a school leader, teachers, students (not the mayor or chancellor) have the right to decide what is best? At the same time shouldn't schools with leaders (... Read Moresuch as the one mentioned in my status update) that embrace personal learning devices as a way to enhance learning, connect with students, and engage learners, be empowered to do so?
about an hour ago · Delete

Jake
I concur with Celine's point. Unfortunately, the negative aspects of cell phones is all too real.
22 minutes ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Jacob, this is sooo sad! So you think that a leader and teachers who see how this can be a tool of learning and empowerment, like the one in my status update shouldn't be allowed to embrace the power of technology? And, if you really believe this, then you might as well ban computers and laptops because any communication device can be used or ... Read Moremisused. I find this sooo disheartening. And, if you do that, then you should also probably consider finding a different line of work since what we do is help folks embrace these tools to prepare kids for the world in which they live.
16 minutes ago · Delete

Jake
You or anyone can embrace whatever they want. Clearly a ban is not the answer given the potential technology offers. Having said that, one must consider the real dangers that exist as in this day and age "ignorance is not bliss". In the end, it should really be a school decision in which "we the technology leaders" provide them with the information needed to make a decision that works for their particular school community.
4 minutes ago · Delete
Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Lisa Velmer Nielsen
@Jacob, of course there are real dangers, but as Shelly said above, you don't ban the tool because the tool can be a pen, paper, mouth of kid, computer, etc. Our job is to teach educators, students, leaders, to embrace not fear the power of technology and use the tools that the kids have in the real world ...both inside ad outside of school.
4 minutes ago · Delete

Jake
As I said previously, a ban is not the answer. However, one should not underestimate the dangers out there. I know you will not agree with this. However, I believe a sound policy is needed for the "real dangers". One that embraces technology but also protects from the real dangers.
2 seconds ago · Delete

Lisa Velmer Nielsen
I do agree with a school making a policy that meets individual school needs. I don't agree with a mayor or chancellor making a policy that bans students from bringing any personal learning device to school. If we do that, we are letting fear of some overpower possibility and promise of others.
2 seconds ago · Delete

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Note: Content is intact, but names have been changed to protect the privacy of those who may want this conversation to remain within the Facebook conversation of friends only.
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