Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reflections on Scott McLeod's Message

Scott McLeod keynoted at the 2nd annual NCSA Technology Conference in Kearney, Nebraska both Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.  I love his message.  I agree with his approach.  My goal in this entry is to share with you, a few of the points he made...or that I recall as I type.

So, I'll start with a link to his blog and the material he covered.  What I respect about Scott is that he shares all that he does.  He posts it and encourages the use of his material under a Creative Commons license.  You see, that is part of his message...and that message is to use the internet, share your stuff, it's all about sharing, teaching, learning and using all of the technology that we now have in front of make education better.  To make the teaching and learning process...better.  To make administrators better.

In his blog post, for Nebraska, he has both keynote address slides available.  But wait, there's more!  He lists his resources, recommended reading, as well as recommended viewing.  Whether admin attended this conference or not, they should spend time on this page alone.  Looking at the resources, watching the videos, having discussions about what it is that is on this site.

OK, back to what I said I was going to do...try and summarize what he'd covered or at least highlight some of it for you.  

I'll start with one of his questions he asked the group to discuss at their tables:  As students and educators integrate technology more into what they do, what are the fears, concerns, and issues?  Things like; lawsuits, filters, safety, cyberbullying,  etc. came up, among others.  

Next, he put some numbers to the actual threat of online predators.  In short, the odds of this happening are less than 1%.  In other words, we are filtering, blocking, disallowing the use of the internet and social networks because of this small...very small chance that this might happen.

Next, something I hear often.  Well, what about CIPA?  The Children's Internet Protection Act.  He broke down what it actually says and what the law actually requires.  Basically, if you get E-rate dollars, you must have an Internet safety policy that includes protection measures.  The measures must block or tilter "pictures" (obscene, child pornography, harmful to minors).  Schools must adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities.  Much of this came back to, or comes back to "teacher supervision".  In other words, YouTube could be opened.  But teachers and admin must talk about appropriate use and actually monitor and supervise those students in their care.  So, he asked, "Is it a technology issues or a supervision issue?"  Not a bad question.

He then turned to disciplinary issues and asked if they (the admin, the schools) were treating technology issues different than other disciplinary issues?  He did make the point that many or most schools already have policies in place that include bullying, harassment, etc. etc.  These policies could easily be amended slightly to include the appropriate use of technology, access to social networks, etc.  In other words, rather than making complete, separate, new policies...just use what you ALREADY have and add a tech piece to it.

He also asked for each school to look at their AUP "Acceptable Use Policy".  Does it focus on punishment or opportunity?  Could this be a great opportunity to involve parents in a discussion about 21st century learning?  

Later, a couple questions that hit a home run:  Who is responsible for teaching appropriate use?  Can you teach appropriate and empowering use if you're categorically blocking everything?

Here's what I suggest.  Take some time on his blog, click on this link.  Check out his message.  Have some discussions with others who were there.  Who heard his message.  It makes a lot of sense.  

Don't live in fear (regarding the internet and technology).  Begin to educate yourself and allow those around you to use all of the great things technology has to offer.  Don't block it all, disallow the use of cell phones, make teachers ASK to have a site opened.  Focus on supervision of students and teach appropriate use.

Don't make kids "power down" at school.  Use technology to engage students.  Use technology to become more efficient and effective.

I hope I have, in some small way, shared a bit of his message.  I encourage your thoughts.  Please comment if you wish.

"Trying to hold back technology is like trying to hold a tsunami back with your hand."  ~Stephanie Hamilton


Lynne said...

Amen. Nice post, Corey.

Scott McLeod said...

Nice summary. Thanks, Corey, for sharing my message and resources. It was good to see you again!