May 23, 2013

What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media

That title doesn't exactly trip lightly off the tongue now, does it?  Ah, well. That's what happens whit these kinds of educational anthologies which are just a compilation of basic essays dressed up to seem more academic.

I'm not knocking it; my new principal bought some of these for her admin and tech teams and asked me to read it as well.  It's good that they will be learning about how using blogs, wikis, feed readers, collaborative word processing, social bookmarking and micro-blogging can enhance learning and professional development.  I've been saying these things since around 2005, so it's nice that they're finally catching up!

There's nothing here I haven't been reading since about 2005 either, but it's nice to have it all in one place and by some well-respected thinkers in the field.  Will Richardson, Richard Byrne, Doug Johnson and Joyce Valenza just to name a few.

Some of the essays are definitely geared more toward middle and high school.  Having all the students whip out their cell phone to interact with the teacher on a quiz is not something we'll be doing soon at the elementary level.  But I am a big proponent of using collaborative technologies like wikis, online collaborative document editing, social bookmarking and blogging as great tools for educators and in the classroom.  So anything that helps people get into these is good with me.

It's funny how quickly things change in this world.  That's why you'll notice I didn't use the names of any certain online tools above.  They change too fast.  There's a whole chapter that keeps using "Google Reader."  Oops.  And reading links written out in a book just seems silly to me these days.  You don't need to write out the link to for crying out loud.  We can do a quick online search for anything you're discussing, including The Alice Project.  Of course, I don't know that using something as amazing as the Alice Project is a good way to introduce educators to blogging.  It might scare them off.  I'd show more generic examples first, then finish with the more impressive uses of the format to show where it can lead to.

But those are minor quibbles in a generally informative book that I can't fault for doing exactly what I've been trying to do for the last umpteen years.  Get administrators and educators to embrace at least the most useful of these tools, the ones that would make anyone's life easier, improve productivity, excitement and perhaps even lead to less meetings and paper!  I mean I really don't EVER need another binder!