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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast
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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast

Project-Based Learning

Where Do Social Networks Fit Into the Student's Educational Experience?

This Fall's Rock Our World Collaboration project is #11 in a series pioneered by Apple Distinguished Educator, Carol Anne McGuire. The success and enthusiasm for this project have created tremendous interest from international education observers, theorists, and practitioners.

In fact, ROW #11 has been selected to be the subject of a documentary by Cameron & David Barrett and their production company,
RIcom Creative. Their Executive Producer, Terry Sanders, a two-time Academy Award winning director/producer, will make "Harmony: The Story of Rock Our World."

So amongst the requests of the documentary makers, is the request for a more open/public view of the process- and Carol Anne has established a Ning community for planning and exchanging ideas. Within a few days of open registrations, she had a
spammer join the Ning and begin to offer some Google™ - based marketing opportunity. Distracting at worse and harmless in the view of most – it did cause us to pause and rethink the open community model. What if it had been someone more offensive or harmful?

Mutual friend and digital education diva, Lucy Gray made the observation this summer at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute that personal learning community memberships should (usually) be managed. Lucy has established a number of Nings that are quite popular including the Global Education Collaborative, and she also had a problem with enterprising posers dropping in to the community for commercial interests outside of the Ning’s mission.

So if membership is closed, who is it closed to?
Now we have to pass judgement, set policy, and review each applicant to our community?
Although it may sound contrary to our desire for open dialog, it is one of those time-honored policies that are being reinterpreted in a new context. Not everyone one and every message is permitted access to our physical school’s campus.

Especially where students are concerned, we need to define our mission and regulate our participants based on that mission.

So different... I expect different results

Early this month I had the opportunity to do some work with a team of nine other Apple Professional Development trainers in Upper Township, New Jersey. They were rolling out a teacher laptop program and they really wanted to capitalize on the excitement of new modern mobile technology. Each teacher was getting a Smartboard System and MacBooks.

What really set this training apart was that in all ten of the training rooms, there was a district administrator participating in the workshop. Not so much supervising as participating. From the superintendent down to the dean... participating.

What does the administration communicate by doing this?

  • I am a lifelong learner.
  • I don’t know it all.
  • This training is important.
  • Your time here is important.
  • I am interested in this.
  • I want to know what is possible.
  • I want to see how hard this is.
  • I want to know how this could impact learning in our school system.

I really expect the results of this training are going to be very different from most trainings I do, because this district knows how to lead by example.