Sunday, November 5, 2017

From Banning to Embracing Social Media: #GovTechLive Names #NYCSchoolsTech Social Media Best in NYC

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The New York City Department of Education has come a long way since 2012 when I took a risk and criticized the city's conservative approach to social media. It wasn't long after that I was brought on to help New York City schools embrace social media for teaching and learning. We started by developing guidelines "with" students and staff and offered related learning opportunities throughout the year.

Fast forward to 2017 and the NYC DOE was honored as the Best in NYC for its innovative use of social media to engage citizens for the work happening via our #NYCSchoolsTech Facebook group and Twitter Chat moderated by tech teacher Eileen Lennon.

You can see photos and our acceptance speeches, which were about 5 minutes total, at this link. (Notice how nicely Google Photos allows you to display photos, video, and text.)

You can read our speeches below.

Best of NYC Schools for the #NYCSchoolsTechChat
(Eileen Lennon)

Over the course of this past year, whenever you hear the word “tweet” in the news, it ends up dividing our nation a little more.

I’m here to say that not all tweets do that.

We here at the NYC Department of Education use tweets to engage, enlighten, and encourage.

We run a twitter chat once a month for teachers to discuss various topics from parent engagement to tomorrow’s topic; tech tools that embrace diversity in the classroom.

The Division of Instructional and Information Technology knows that engaging teachers in relevant topics is the foundation of the work in ensuring our students are prepared for success in the 21st century. They also know that if we want our teachers to be prepared we must move from digital citizenship to digital leadership. That is why we give educators across New York City an opportunity to share ideas and connect not only with each other, but also with experts and authors around the globe.  

I stand here with my co-moderator Lisa Nielsen, and some of our rock star contributors to each month’s chat, JoJo Farrell, and Clemencia Acevedo to say thank you for recognizing this important work.  

Best Use of Social Media to Engage Citizens:  #NYCSchoolsTech Group on Facebook (Lisa Nielsen)

That man was Mayor Bill DeBlasio

He was right. When I started my career back in the 90s as a library and tech teacher at the New York City Department of education, I felt completely alone. My voice wasn’t heard and I couldn’t hear the voices of anyone else. The only approved way to communicate was via snail mail, that first made a pit stop at the principal's office. By the time information got to us teachers, usually it was no longer relevant.

Working in isolation benefits no one. Not the teachers or students we serve and protect. Those days as a media specialist have impacted my practice today as Director of Digital Engagement & Learning. As a beginning teacher I knew how powerful it would have been to be able to connect with expert peers. As an experienced educator I understand the value of sharing insights and practices about innovative techniques and technologies.

When I began working in the digital communication group at the DOE one of my priorities was: To help other innovative educators connect, engage, interact and grow stronger together. I tried a lot of different things: Ning, Yammer, Edmodo, Google+... but what took off is one of the principles right out of the mayor’s “Digital Playbook” which advises government employees to build upon what works and reach people where they are.

For us that was Facebook.

Despite the fact that Facebook was blocked in many schools in the past, this is where our teachers were and still are. Fortunately, I have a supervisor who understands the importance of that and encouraged me to follow the mayor’s advice and reach educators where they are using what works. Because of that we have connected more than 2500 tech-loving teachers with each other as well as with the experts and vendors whose products, platforms, and resources, they know and love.

Today we’ve moved past the good ol days, that really weren’t so great, and upward and onward into the digital age where innovative educators across NYC are sharing, connecting, and inspiring one another to do what is the very best for students.

I am honored and excited that Gov Tech is recognizing this important work. I am thrilled to accept this award on behalf of an amazing group of more than 2500 educators and five passionate and dedicated moderators JoJo Farrell and Eileen Lennon who join me here on stage, along with Darlynn Alfalla, Jackie Patanio, and Andrew Liebowitz who are watching this on Facebook Live.Hi friends!

I'd also like to share a special thank you to my forward-thinking supervisor who has provided unwavering support and guidance along the way: Jane Pook.

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