Some Good News… and Soliciting Feedback…

Some Good News… (Via Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom.) Will posted this good news some time ago and I’ve been meaning to get back to this topic and post my own good news.

I’m afraid the 15 Orange County districts affected by the web filters at the OCDE won’t be getting access to Blogspot back anytime soon. (15 other districts make this decision themselves, and are primarily not blocking blogspot.) The Next Blog button is still a deal killer for the OCDE. However, educators can request that specific blogspot blogs be unblocked, which has happened in a few cases. Unfortunately I know most educators won’t know to do that… and that there are far more educationally viable blogspot sites than we could ever realistically ask to have unblocked.

Even so, the internal discussions at OCDE have been promising. They are seeking a balanced message that will both get out the instructional benefits of these technologies, and help raise awareness about the concerns. Thankfully, I’ve been included in these discussion… and given some responsibility in crafting this message. I’ve already had a chance to develop and deliver drafts to authentic audiences.

The following are my speaking points from two discussions last week… one with the District Educational Technology Leaders and one with the Assistant Superintendents of Instruction. The discussion was lively, informed, and reasonable in both cases. Apparently the assistant sups had never spent so long on a topic (about 30 minutes).

Now I’m soliciting feedback (from any of you). How well have I covered these? Have I got anything wrong? Have I missed anything?

The Benefits

Engagement and Motivation: Digital natives already enjoy using these social technologies outside of school.

Context: Students access, process, and create content with an authentic purpose and audience.

Inquiry: Students can discover, explore, and contribute to topics that interest them.

Collaboration: Students can connect with peers and experts using the tools of the
21st century workplace.

Reflection: Ideally, these tools can facilitate and mediate student thinking and learning.

The Concerns

There is a continuum of concerns.
Access to Inappropriate Content
Inappropriate Sharing
Intellectual Property Issues
Fraud or Identity Theft
Cyber Stalkers or Predators
… and Lack of Understanding

NOTE: It is important to remember that friends and family are at risk, too. Students need to count on each other in order to be safe online.

I elaborate on these extemporaneously and then offer some prompts for discussion. I hope to elaborate in writing here soon. I’m thankful to now be working on two articles and a television spot focused on these same topics. For some audiences (such as the KOCE audience) I need to translate these things into layman’s terms. For the more academic articles, I need to compose a narrative, and include examples (with citations). These various projects will be pulled together over the next few weeks and I will share what I can here. (Some will be published and will only be reprinted with permission.)

So, what do people need to hear? How should I tell this story for maximum impact… for both sharing the potential and keeping our students safe? I look forward to any comments you might share.