mixing and remixing to find a balance….
We’re currently using personalized wikispaces and edublogs at my school. While we’re getting more and more folks interested and on board, the handling of media on the sites is raising some challenges. For example, some uses are uploading photos (often huge, unoptimized photos) directly to their wikis and blogs while others prefer to link to images in their personal flickr accounts, but the free accounts sometimes limit what they can do.
So, it occurred to me that it might be useful to pay for a single pro flickr account (or one per division, or…?) with a single login to be shared by all faculty. I ran this by the tech department to look for holes in the logic, but I figured I’d tap the Edusphere to see if anyone had any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, cautions, or alternatives to offer.
Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:
- It’s inexpensive.
- Flickr is already a familiar tool.
- Unlimited storage, bandwidth, etc.
- It’s easy to use.
- This would be a good way to consolidate and archive school-related images.
- It offers simple image editing capabilities.
- Teachers would share a single login.
- Could students have access as well?
- Does it raise privacy/copyright issues?
- Do the flickr terms of service allow this type of shared use?
- With many users, would it become a chaotic mess?
What are we missing? Any and all suggestions are welcome.
And all of this of course leads to the question of the best way to handle audio and video, so please feel free to offer ideas for that as well.
Three times in the last week I’ve heard people argue that teaching doesn’t change because teachers are afraid – or have too much ego – to give up control in their classrooms. While those teachers no doubt exist in the wild, I’m reminded of a quotation I stumbled across some years ago (but I’m afraid I don’t remember who said it): “Never attribute to others motives more nefarious than your own.”
I suspect that the real reason so many classrooms tend to be teacher-centered is that a lot of teachers don’t know how to turn over the reins to students and still get through the material they feel obliged to cover.
Yes, I understand that therein lies the problem, but the reality is that the curriculum and expectations are often/usually not the teacher’s own. And I believe a futher reality is that most schools don’t know how to create truly student-centered, constructivist, project-based, creative learning environments that are rigourous, effective, and sustainable and don’t fall victim to the problems that doomed so many past attempts at progressive school reform.
As Chris Lehmann pointed out at EduCon, this stuff isn’t easy.
If it were, everyone would be doing it.
While I intellectually understood many of the differences between technology use in public and private schools, having the opportunity to attend EduCon 2.0 allowed me to experience those differences at a more visceral level. The conference was filled with smart, passionate, innovative educators from public schools across the nation, many of whom have to spend ridiculous amounts of time and energy avoiding, or leaping over, bureaucratic, financial, and technical barriers.
At one point I had one of those Ah-Ha moments in which you realize the blatantly obvious. Technology use in a well-established, well-funded, traditional independent schools is generally additive rather than transformational because it can be. By most standards schools like mine are already successful. Most of our students get a balanced education, graduate from high school, and go on to college – and many go to the “good” colleges they’re supposed to.
Over the course of the conference I began to think of this as the If College versus Which College divide. As many public schools are struggling to find ways just to get kids to graduate, their private school counterparts have the luxury to focus on getting their students into the right colleges (and fortunately more and more schools seem to understand that “right” has more to do with fit than status).
In which context is radical change most needed and technology most likely to be truly transformational?
As EduCon 2.0 wraps up, my head is spinning, as it usually does at a great conference. I’ll try to carve out time over the next few days to reflect on my experiences. The first day was actually the preconference, where the early arrivers had the opportunity to visit SLA and hang out with each other. I met some great folks and had a chance to spend time with Chris Lehmann and talk to him about SLA. He and this place are impressive. What a great school in so many ways.
That said, I have to say it was interesting to see that what’s going on in the classrooms was not so different from what happens in other good classrooms I’ve spent time in over the years. I guess I was half-expecting to find Utopian classrooms of totally rapt students, master teachers, ground-breaking innovation, and technology-rich, student-centered lessons. I did see some of that, but I mostly saw passionate teachers of various abilities using a variety of progressive and traditional approaches to reach large classes of generally engaged students, many of whom were on task and some of whom were on Facebook. In other words, I saw the reality of most good schools. This is not meant as a criticism at all but only as an observation of my own preconceptions.
More to come.
Rather than talk about not writing, I’m just going to write….
Going to EduCon 2.0 at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia tomorrow. Chris Lehman was our virtual keynote speaker at the NEIT 2007 conference at Mohonk this year. I was incredibly impressed by what he had to say about progressive educations, student empowerment, and project-based learning, so I’m very exited to visit his school. And the conversations that are planned look great.
We’re in the throes of preparing for a technology evaluation at my school. More on that later.
Still twittering since the NEIT conference, but I’m still mostly a lurker. We’ll see if I get sucked in.