Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Power of Advocacy

Returning from the Keystone Technology Institute (KTI), I had a renewed energy and excitement about teaching. I came away with many new ideas and thoughts about where we could take technology in my district. Before I even got home, I’d been invited in for a conversation with Jill M., one of our technology directors and a true educator. I went in with an agenda since I’d been thinking about so many things. My main focus: how we could use technology for professional development and to improve teacher-student interactions.

Our wide-ranging talk resulted in several immediate outcomes: the filter on the district network was opened to allow teachers greater access to Internet resources. For example, Twitter has been opened to teachers, and I hope to show my colleagues how they can use it not only for social connections but also for professional contact. (I know I’ve learned a lot from the small circle of people I follow on Twitter!) Because of mentioning the work of Kristen H at the Summit, Skype had already been opened up as a potential avenue for video conferencing.

On another front, I brought up the idea of using some flavor of instant messenger to keep teachers connected with their students. Why do this? The kids of today are connected, and one of those connections is IM. Why shouldn’t we connect with them in a way they are accustomed to and comfortable with? Anyhow…quite frankly, it seems like there’s a fear on some fronts about doing this, and I can understand that. It opens up a whole new form of teacher-student interaction, and what happens if there is an accusation of inappropriate contact? I’ve suggested, and am willing to be a part of, designing a district policy that would support this.

Finally, I brought back the idea of technology mentors from KTI, and Jill seems receptive to the idea. She brought up the idea of using a group called Cadre that we already have in place to help teachers new to the district become familiar with our technological policies and practices.

All in all, it never hurts to take ideas to the folks in charge, especially if they are open to team work and dialogue. Next up...what happened when I met with the building principal.


shannon said...

Found your blog through Kristin H's page. I was wondering if your students know how involved you are with tech advocacy, and what their thoughts are on the changes you're looking to bring about... It all sounds very exciting and I think they'd really appreciate your efforts.

Scott said...


Well, I'm not sure if the kids know how much I do or not. Because I seem to be the go to guy at school, apparently I've earned the nickname Mac Daddy - did you guess we're a Mac based school :)

I know I told them at one point this week I was working with people in the district to get an Acceptable Use Policy of sorts going for IM contact between teachers and students, and they seemed appreciative of the fact that I feel teachers should be more accessible.

And, I think they know how the new classroom response system they're using came to the school...but more about that in a future blog.