To YouTube or not?

In my role as Instructional Technology Director for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, I end up in a regular conversation/debate about why we block YouTube in our schools. My usual argument involves the following points:

  • YouTube was not designed for education and therefore has very little regulation
  • Although there are some fantastic videos available, the bad outweigh the good.
  • Most educational videos are being offered on both YouTube and Teacher Tube (which we do not block).
  • Although we keep it blocked in the buildings, we teach those interested how to download videos from YouTube at home in order to bring them in for lessons.

I must admit that I am a YouTube junkie. In fact, I have my own channel where videos of my son are posted (he will be a rock star…mark my words). This debate is something I struggle each time I am involved.

It does make me curious though…If you read my blog, what does your system do? How do you think this should be handled in order to keep children safe and be compliant with CIPA?

NTLB

(This was originally posted on the InTouch blog)

As our division works in schools to help train teachers and administrators on what it means to be literate in the 21st century, one of two responses usually follow:

1. Wow! I didn’t really want to come to this but I am so glad I did! This is cool and my students are going to love it!

OR…

2. I do not have time for this. Why are you wasting my time? You cannot possibly ask me to do one more thing…

My question is this: Can we afford to be technology illiterate in this ever-changing world? Can we afford not to use technology in our teaching? Our district is reviewing what we call our “non-negotiables” in curriculum and teaching. When will technology become a non-negotiable? Would our students put it in that category? Is it not an integrated part of their lives?

For the teachers who do not want “one more thing added to my plate,” I wonder why you do not see how technology can condense and simplify your lessons. Why can you not see what technology does for student engagement? Technology is not going away. It will only get more advanced and integrated into our lives. Please open your mind and begin to see the possibilities. Without it, you may lay victim to the latest education acronym: NTLB (No Teacher Left Behind). I promise you that the students will not be left behind. You will.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach stated last year at the NCaect conference, “Teachers will never be replaced by computers. However, teachers who do not use computers will be replaced by those who do.”

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgoulao/411835782/sizes/s/

Featured 21st Century School

Be sure to check out the Teach 21 blog for Bolton Elementary. The address for the teach21 blog is http://teach21bolton.blogspot.com/.

Throughout the school year, Bolton staff is having conversations about what needs to be done to have future-ready students. They are learning how to motivate and inspire students through the use of technology. This blog is written by the school’s technology facilitator, Sam Walker. Sam is documenting the thoughts, fears, excitement, and successes of bringing Bolton into the 21st Century. If you get a chance, please click on the teacher blog links on the left hand side. They are just beginning their journey and it is an exciting one!

Taking Care of Business

Today I had the pleasure of hearing David Warlick speak to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System Technology Facilitators. As always, I was inspired, amazed, and reminded that no matter how much I think I know, there is so much more to learn!

David was gracious and allowed me to pick from a menu of thoughts, ideas, and past presentations. The recipe made one heck of an overview of where we are, where we should be, and ideas for what others are making possible.

My takeaways:
– Knitter (like Twitter but without the joining and following)
– Machinima (creating movies/videos using Second Life/video games and video editing)
– Scratch (I had downloaded this programming software for kids recently but did not understand how to use it until today)
– Companies are already creating wearable technology

What is a network?

At last night’s ISTE Welcome Session right before the keynote, we were addressed by and introduced to several of the people on the Board of Directors and staff. As this was the third year I have attended this session, I expected to get the quick run down of NECC events and such-informative but dry. I was thrilled to be mistaken.

Although we did have some dryness at the beginning, the NECC conference hired Brad Mongomery to be the Master of Ceremonies. What fun! His light-hearted sense of humor put the crowd at ease and he was able to do something most people cannot: get a room of several hundred people to have authentic conversation with each other. Through a series of exercises, we formed groups of 5 or 6 and responded to several prompts. Even those who do not like “touchy feely” were participating.

But what had the greatest impact for me was how he described what a network is. He did so by sharing what a network is not:

  • It is not “Hi. My name is…”
  • It is not “Here is my business card.”
  • It is not “What can you do for me? What information can you give me?”

Authentic network is a relationship. It is finding about not only the professional but the personal aspect of other’s lives. We bring who we are (which by the way is EXACTLY what James Surowiecki talked about in the keynote) and to be part of the network we have to connect on all levels.

So Brad gave the audience homework. Instead of asking the “Hi, how are you?” when you sit next to someone, you should ask “Outside of work, what takes up your time?” You may hear the question a lot this year at NECC but I hope you take the time to ask and answer! Create your own wisdom of the crowds. Create a network.

Thanks to my group of new friends from the session: Claire, Angelita, Dave, Benjamin, and Jose. It was a pleasure!

Creating a Personal Network in Second LIfe (Live Blogging)

Group presenting is the DEN (Discovery Education Network) council in Second Life (SL). None of them had met in real life until this weekend. They work together regularly in SL. DEN in SL was born in 2007.

Next Wednesday they will have a newbie event in SL. They bring in various speakers to present including Steve Dembo (teach42). They had a Halloween party last year. They have hosted 65 formal events but that does not include the many informal events in the DEN. Events are posted in SL, they have a Google group.

2007- 56 events with 566 participants

Communication anytime/anywhere- 24 hour professional learning

Create a visual of your network- post them for understanding

Second Life has the possibility to help students who are homebound but presenter said that she personally does not believe SL is ready for students.

Book: A Beginners Guide to Second Life- can only order online; Second Life for Dummies also very good

Looking for Wednesday workshop presenters- think about volunteering