Visitors to eSchool News Online are privy to a very special society. The Ed-Tech Insider at http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/index.php is an educator blog community dedicated to putting the promise of technology into practice. The site features more than a dozen ed-tech professionals so passionate about enhancing learning through technology that they’ve agreed to share their expertise in a dialogue with eSN Online readers.
Here’s a sampling of some of the best Ed-Tech Insider posts in recent weeks. All of these posts are still active, so if you want to comment on any of them, simply visit the site to do so.
From “Systemic Reform and Glass Houses”
“Discussing the general need for systemic reform in American education is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in the ed-tech blogosphere, which is all well and good … However, I’d argue that ed tech is at least as much of a mess as education in general at this point. If ed-tech people are going to focus on ed reform in general, who is going to take care of ed-tech reform? … Here’s an agenda for systemic reform in ed tech, off the top of my head: Demand hardware designed to meet the specific requirements and budgets of schools; phase out the use of all proprietary data formats for documents or multimedia content; spend public money on creating publicly-held intellectual property, not software licenses; spend the money you save by avoiding inappropriate hardware and proprietary software licenses on support and training; get the IT staff and legal team working collaboratively with the rest of the community to figure out how to manage security and privacy restrictions in a balanced fashion; invest at least 10 percent of your IT budget in research and development; leverage philanthropic funding through long-lived, free software development projects, not transient hardware and proprietary software purchases; transition publicly-funded university research projects into community-supported free software projects, instead of commercial ventures; collaborate internationally on free software development. What’s exciting about this agenda is that it is genuinely new, completely achievable, and sustainable.”
From “Student Information and Google Earth”
“While many school districts have student information systems, most of them return data in tabular or list formats. Applications such as Google Earth (http://earth.google.com) suggest the possibility of looking at these data visually and geographically. One application that leaps to mind is to plot the physical addresses of students on Google Earth. This would give an administrator a visual representation of the geographical data associated with his or her student body. Combining these data with data from other sources, such as city or county geographical information systems, provides a powerful tool for learning about the physical world in which our students live. … Imagine at your next staff meeting discussing not only student progress in reading, but also sharing with your staff a bit of data about where their students live, and what kind of social factors the students deal with when away from school. This exercise can help us all see our students in the light of not just schoolwork, but the other forces that shape their lives.”
From “Internet Safety for Kids”
“… It isn’t just MySpace.com that we need to be concerned about; it is any web site that students tend to use. The predators, scam artists, etc., will follow. We need to teach students safe, appropriate use of the internet, rather than just block them from these sites. We block MySpace.com and Xanga.com to keep kids from reading and posting during the school day, but you can’t stop them from posting when they are at home, and you can’t enforce school discipline on them for what they post at home. You need to make the parents aware, as they often know far less about the internet than their children and have no idea what [their kids] are putting online. But again, this has to be more general than just about MySpace.com and Xanga.com and … If you do have instances of bullying, threats, rumors, etc., you can still bring the students in and talk to them, counsel them, call the parents, or get the local law enforcement involved.”