Opening the Doors to Web 2.0 for 21st Century Enrichment in K-12

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.

Views: 84

Tags: 21stCentury, EdTech, K-12, SocialMedia, Web2.0

Comment by Nancy Blair on August 24, 2009 at 11:24am
Bravo! Lead the charge. It's refreshing to see a district's leadership actually leading the way. So many systems "hide" behind CIPA instead of finding ways to manage the concerns. Kudos to you.
Comment by David Ligon on August 25, 2009 at 12:23am
Thank you, Nancy, for the encouragement. I spent most of my morning today implementing web filter unblock requests for various social media sites that came flooding in from Principals and their teaching staff. It is a very exciting time to be an Ed Tech Director in my district. YouTube is still an issue for us since our web filter cannot selectively unblock educational content and we do not have the monitoring software to effectively prevent CIPA violations. Our weak spot it seems are the Media Centers, with overburdened staff who are unable to keep vigil over the student workstations there. I developed a work-around protocol involving conversion to MP4 then uploading to TeacherTube--so far that approach seems to be working.

I appreciate your recognition of the accomplishments our district leadership has made in implementing progressive policies for Web 2.0 in the K-12 environment. May our example serve as a beacon of hope for other districts to one day move beyond the outmoded 19th century pedagogical approach and offer true 21st Century enrichment to their digital learners.
Comment by KLJ on September 1, 2009 at 10:48am
Well done!
Comment by David Ligon on September 12, 2009 at 11:55pm
Marie, I appreciate your affirmation of our district's bold new journey into the world of Web 2.0. Thanks!

Dianne, you are indeed fortunate to have such supportive leadership in your district as in mine. I wish you all the best in making your journey a success. I have taken the first step in this direction by unblocking twitter, which sets the stage for me to begin working with the teachers and the instructional technology committee to move forward with its incorporation into the classroom curriculum. There are many excellent resources out there on how to best use it in the classroom, which I have run across in my twitter PLN and on various blogsites. I would be interested in hearing back from you at some point on how things are progressing for you with twitter at your district and compare notes, since we are both at the beginning stages. Congratulations on your bold move.

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