Monday, January 19, 2009

What I saw at CLHS.....

I just returned home from speaking at the California League of High Schools Statewide conference this past weekend and it was a different experience for me for many reasons. First, I usually attend and speak at Educational Technology Conferences and gatherings, so I usually know that my attendees have come to the conference to... "Get their Geek on!" They are a willing and receptive audience and usually have some interest or have done some work in educational technology. They are there to learn the latest and greatest things and what others are doing in the field. The groups I spoke to this past weekend were different, in that there were some who fit the EdTech profile, but there were others, some "who hadn't drank the kool-aid" yet, but knew it was time they did so. For this group, I got the feeling that my sessions were "like bringing water to the desert."

Secondly, there was an overriding feeling that the current state of affairs in education is about to undergo a significant and trans formative change. Whether it was the impending inauguration of President Obama and the bringing to Washington his basketball playing friend, Arne Duncan, as Secretary of Education or the general feeling that the system does not meet the needs of the current students any longer and the rank and file teachers know it.

I asked the people attending my sessions a few general questions, the first question that I usually ask to gauge the receptiveness of the teacher and school district is whether 'YouTube' is blocked. I usually get 'yes' responses in the 70% - 75% range when I ask this question at EdTech Conferences, this past weekend the responses were solidly over 90%, approaching 100%. As I went through each of my sessions, which were on varied EdTech topics (Blogger, VoiceThread and One Hour Website), I had at least one person stop me and ask, if I would come to their district and speak to their administrators about Educational Technology.

When I was a Technology Coordinator, I had a great deal of autonomy. (Thanks, Tess!) For a variety of reasons, the first being that I just did what I felt needed to be done. If there was an educational justification for it, I did it! I didn't ask all the time, I just did it, and there were some occasions where I had an administrator wag their finger at me, but that was about it. The Assistant Principal that was supposed to oversee me, quickly became overburdened with my constant requests and pestering for change that he moved aside and let me go. But I did meet some resistance once I got to the District level and this is why I eventually recognized why I had to move into Administration. I could go on and on about some of these issues and how I eventually got my way or was still fighting the good fight when I left for Woodside, but that doesn't serve the ends we need to get to, which is having ubiquitous access to Internet resources at every school in every country around the world.

So, the question I am asking is this... What do you want me to tell your Administrators? What do you need to make ubiquitous access happen in your school? What resources do you need?

I am going to take your responses and develop a series of talks specifically aimed at administrators, to get them on board and move the entire process forward.

I am looking forward to hearing your responses, so we can 'bring water to the desert' and create oases of how education should look like in the 21st Century. More to come...


Ken said...

A district blocking a site or sites without any level of consulting or feedback from teachers using the tech is the same as the district not trusting the teachers to manage their own classes. They might as well have somebody stationed in all classes since that is the message they are sending. Keep up the good work Kyle and fight the good fight!!!

Skip Zalneraitis said...

1. Give teachers an override code for blocked sites on the WWW.
2. Give us access to more Web 2.0 tools when they need a component on the desktop.
3. Ditto for hardware for Skype and iChat, for instance.

Justin Cottrell said...

Every school should have ubiquitous BANDWIDTH!!!! We need an exorbitant amount of Bandwidth on a school network since many of my colleagues are increasingly depending on the network to perform their curriculum and everyone complains of network slowdown. We are always reminded to conserve bandwidth so that everyone can use it, but I would like to see our access to more bandwidth increase as the needs get bigger. Thanks Kyle and hope you can communicate this to the powers that Be! :)