Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A grain of sand

On #edchat tonight we were talking about policies.  This was interesting for me because just yesterday I was trying to find a policy and discovered some policies are part of the culture of a school but are not written down.  On #edchat tonight the focus was on policies that may have a negative impact on education and how these could be changed to have a positive impact.  Teachers talked quite a bit about policies that blocked things in their schools and districts.  The consensus seemed to be that schools could do with rethinking filtering (negative) and turning this into a learning opportunity where students could learn about digital citizenship (positive).  Rather than blocking (negative) and having students learning from their peers and perhaps going on to engage in dangerous online behaviour (negative) we should empower them to master the digital world (positive).  There were suggestions that policies should be set collaboratively by students, parents, teachers and administrators (@cybraryman1) so that all were motivated to abide by them.  It was pointed out that a policy should not be created to police the less than 5% that would use something inappropriately but that they should always be created with your best people in mind (@bjnichols).

So how can we challenge a policy that is not working.  This takes courage as it's difficult to challenge the status quo, or something that many don't seem to care about one way or another.  Sometimes you need to show examples of positives (but perhaps you have to break the rules to get these examples in the first place?).  Sometimes you need to have many conversations with all the stakeholders involved - in particular parents (I was actually surprised at how many educators said that getting parents involved was a good step to changing a bad policy - @Mamacita said parents will eventually demand that all their child's teachers utilize tech, if one good, brave teacher uses it well).

Using social media is so controversial, it seems, in many schools.  Using Web 2.0 tools are controversial in some schools too because of worries about privacy and security.  But the benefits of using these tools properly far outweigh the problems.  We have to be advocates for positive change - even though it is hard.  A grain of sand in the right place, produces a pearl.

Photo by Katie Storey


  1. I read this today on Facebook from my friend Sam. Very true!

    Crossing the street can be dangerous too and we don't keep them just to the one side of the street as that is not practical. Instead we teach them how to cross the street. We talk about how to do it safely. We practice doing it together. We set up rules that they have to cross the street with an adult... etc etc. Until one day, they can do that by themselves.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. When our school year begins soon, we will be making our computer agreement focussing on the positive rather than talking about the negative. We will work with the students to create the contract.