Today marked a turning point in the history of our school district. We officially implemented a progressive social media policy which now allows us to begin offering Web 2.0 integration into our curriculum. Things began to change with a new district leadership team last year who fostered a belief in 21st Century technology. On the Friday before the semester started this year we held a rally where our Superintendent showed teachers A Vision of K-12 Students Today
and vowed we would rise to the challenge. Beginning today, as the Educational Technology Director, I put our Principals on notice that Web 2.0 is officially open for business in our district.
We subscribe to the philosophy that providing a 21st Century classroom environment to leverage achievement for our digital learners is a mandate, and our obligation to prepare students with the skills to succeed in the information age. To fulfill that vision, it requires not only the technology hardware such as interactive whiteboards, laptops, and document cameras--but the accompanying curriculuar resources such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, MUVEs, and other collaborative Social Media tools. Professional development in instructional technology and modeling for our teachers is also an essential component.
CIPA compliance concerns and instances of inappropriate internet use had held us back historically in a puritanical abstinence approach towards engaging in Web 2.0. Even when I was first hired on, I shared the fear that simply becoming involved in any social media would reflect poorly on me and diminish my chances for getting a job. Earlier this year, I began to get engaged in Web 2.0 so that I could better understand it and make more informed policy decisions regarding its potential use in our educational environment. To my astonishment I discovered a wealth of resources out there in cyberspace, through PLNs, internet searches, conferences and online collaboration. I found pedagogical methods, standards, rubrics, Top 100 lists of links to free edtech resources, and information on how Twitter is used in the classroom. I ran across schools actively using Twitter, blogs, wikis, podcasts, iPhones, Second Life--even something called The Kindergarten Twitter Project
Soon I became a true believer in the power of Social Media to transform the educational landscape of the 21st Century. Armed with all this research and first-hand experience, as well as the support of our Superintendent and Curriculum Directors, I became emboldened to move forward with a strategy to implement a policy change which would open the doors to a new way of learning. No longer would IT pull the plug when a student abused the internet for non-educational use, but we would begin coaching the site administrators on teaching guided appropriate use, backed up by monitoring and imposing the appropriate disciplinary actions for policy violations.
Tomorrow I plan on removing some educational Ning sites from our web filter, speaking with our Curriculum Directors about becoming involved in the Kindergarten Twitter Project, and asking the Principals to bring me their list of sites for unblocking along with their curriculum integration plans. A new day has dawned in our school district, and I look forward to leading the charge into the 21st Century for the enrichment of our students and the liberation of our teachers.