Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dear Missouri Educators (cont.)

Part I

Written in response to a Facebook inquiry from a Missouri educator, "Other than the banned websites website, what would you recommend as proactive measures?"


I learned from the Missouri ACLU that school districts across the state are scrambling to revise their district policies before January 2012. Sadly, they are doing so with Bill 54 in mind. Even with Friday’s injunction, it looks as though “unsupervised” teacher-student online contact will be discouraged in the revised legislation. 

Where possible, I would recommend advising district administrators to consult the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) guidelines for creating a 21st Century-friendly Acceptable Use Policy. The National Association of Secondary School Principals also published a position paper that should be of help . Here is our district’s Acceptable Use Policy. There is a lot of confusion about eRate funding and CIPA compliance. For clarification, please refer to the Mind/Shift interview with United States Department of Education’s Director of Educational Technology, Karen Cator. 

In Connecticut, we've seen districts rethink their own policies after observing other districts earn recognition for using participatory media to innovate teaching and learning. There are five examples of this kind of instruction at under lessons. Districts you might want to look at include Osseo Minnesota, Burlington, Massachusetts, New Milford, New Jersey, and ours (New Canaan, Connecticut).

Last spring I wrote a blog post about friending students on Facebook. This was a follow-up to a post I wrote in response to a board of education policy that bore some resemblance to the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act that went into effect in December 2010 in the town where I live – Westport, CT (not where I teach, thank goodness!).

There is an open document where educators can contribute ideas for activities to celebrate Banned Websites Awareness Day. CoSN opened its awards applications a couple of weeks ago. One suggestion would be to nominate a progressive Missouri CTO for the Withrow award, or a team of innovative educators for the CoSN TEAM Award. Innovative use of technology, particularly where participatory learning is concerned is a valued practice.

Finally,, an online professional learning network for educators, hosts a community for educators to exchange practical information about using emerging technologies in the classroom. It is called TEAM21 (Teachers for Educational Access to Media for 21st Century Learning). Please join. It is free! And since it is exclusively for educators, not students, it will be exempt from the constraints of Missouri legislation.

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