Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(Mis)Leading in a Web 2.0 World: 60 Ways to Stay Out of Touch

Dear Education Leader:

When we think about the phrase 'digital divide' we often think of it as economic advantages or disadvantages that affords or limits Internet access.  But there is another type of digital divide that is as crucial and it could well be happening where you lead.  This is a divide that happens when school leaders, especially those holding the most power, confine their schools to a Web 1.0 world and continue to invest in metaphors that no longer work (or at least work well): those based solely on encoder/decoder models.

Consider these scenarios and see which ones (if any) resonate.

  1. You call a monthly admin meeting of the principals, supervisors, central office leaders in the district where you lead and upon arrival at each meeting you direct everyone to turn off their cell phones and close their laptops. "You won't be needing any of that," you tell the group.
  2. You continue to use email as the sole method for communicating with your admin staff and consider this method novel.
  3. You use your computer primarily to send and receive email; write memos, policies, and agendas; access the Internet for searching purposes, and occasionally to make a purchase on line.
  4. You distrust the 'notion' that there are new literacies to be learned. You stand firm on the belief that reading is reading and writing is writing.  
  5. The Director of Pupil Services advocates for assisted technologies and you understand that to mean every child is issued x (fill in your favorite hardware).
  6. Your district web page is set up to 'push out' information.  There is a link where viewers can email those in the organization, but no other types of interactions are permitted.
  7. You do not allow schools to have their own web page designs.  All web pages are standardized and controlled by the District 'point person'.
  8. Virtual learning is new and you support purchasing it by commercial providers.
  9. You will not allow any student web presence for any reason. There are no school or course specific web pages that feature student work.
  10. No principal or school can have its own Facebook page.
  11. No district educator is allowed to communicate with any student using Facebook or Twitter (or any other social media sites).
  12. You think of Flikr as a receptacle for family and friend photographs but not as a potential educational site.
  13. You believe that video games belong in the arcade, not in the classroom and enforce such thinking by controlling curriculum.
  14. No Internet ready devices can be brought into any school or district office.
  15. All wireless networks are pass-worded to protect the system.
  16. School library funding has remained static.  You see no reason to increase the funding.
  17. You support the purchase of desktop computers (they are sturdy) and computer labs and are skeptical about the purchase of handheld devices and entering any leasing agreement.
  18. You support educators who want to use the textbook accounts to purchase textbooks and are skeptical about those in your organization who recommend using Open source materials and want to reallocate textbook monies to purchase other types of materials/services.
  19. Texting isn't something you understand or do and certainly you don't condone its use during school.
  20. Instead of Drop Everything and Read program being limited to books,  a middle school principal is advocating that students develop their own Google Readers as a source for sustained reading. You have have not supported this idea as you worry that students will spend the time 'surfing' the net not actually reading.
  21. You do not support young children using computers as you think it is dangerous to them physically, emotionally, intellectually and morally.
  22. You require all employees to ensure in writing that nothing of their home life can be found on school-issued technology.
  23. Going "paperless" is impossible. Best not to try something that radical.
  24. You support the purchase of software, but have not established any process to purchase e-books or apps. You're not sure these 'extras' are really necessary.
  25. You still insist that teachers include at least two "technology-based" lessons each year as a method for increasing 'technology' use in the classroom.
  26. You have a separate technology plan from your district's education plan. 
  27. Technology is handed out by teachers.
  28. You support a 1-to-1 program and believe issuing everyone the same hardware is progressive.
  29. Cell phones are not allowed to be used for any reason at school by students and only during a preparation period, lunch, or before and after school by the Staff.
  30. You believe in scaling up.
  31. You are proud that every classroom has a 'Smart' board or an 'Elmo'  and consider that purchase to be wise.
  32. You direct the high school principal to put an end to 'Twitter" conversations that teachers and students are having as they violate district policy.
  33. PD is a scheduled event where everyone learns X or Y.
  34. You think of technology as computer use.
  35. You are suspect of principals who "Tweet" as you wonder how they have all that time on their hands.
  36. You understand social media to mean Facebook.
  37. You are unaware of social bookmarking and have never heard of stumbleupon, diigo, slashdot, clipmarks, reddit, scoopit, newsvine, mixx, and so on...
  38. You understand that 'curation' is something that happens in museums by experts, not classrooms.
  39. You believe in the primacy of explicit knowledge recall as an indicator of students learning well.
  40. Blogging is a fad and should not be used in English classes.
  41. You do not advocate for student-developed multimedia texts as the whole issue of 'storage' continues to be a problem.
  42. You believe that protecting your email system requires you to host it on your own servers. You are security conscious.
  43. You are considering investing in 5 desktop computers that have Internet access for every classroom in the district so that all can have access to 'computers'.
  44.  Every quarter the head librarian sends you the "Quarterly Report" in a format you don't understand (Slideshare, Mashup, Issuu, and so on).
  45. You require teachers to "do a Powerpoint lesson" each year.
  46. You understand YouTube to be a site where people watch movies and block it at all schools. 
  47. Your technology director is not an educator.
  48. Given the expense, you see no need to "rush into" wireless networks.
  49. You know there's a Cloud, but feel it is 'safer' to keep your data, products, email on your own servers.
  50. The District's technology director and a few selected admins determine technology priorities and policies for the district.
  51. Professional development is important and that's why you support teaching educators how to use software such as the "Word Suite" which is loaded on to all computers.
  52. You think procuring hardware is the most important expenditure the district can make an as such you reallocate professional learning funds in order to purchase more hardware.
  53. You require every teacher to have a standardized district web page, including those who already have established their own web presence.
  54. Plagiarism is plagiarism and copyright is copyright and you support the enforcement of these strict rules. You have no understanding of Remix via Creative Commons license.
  55. Your district has spent a lot of funds on 'science technology' and you have mandated that all science teachers must use specific technologies (probes, sensors, meters, monitors, computer-based simulations, computer-based modeling tools, etc.) at least once a week.
  56. You have mandated that one of the four observations conducted on all non-tenured teachers must be a 'technology' lesson.
  57. You support teachers and their students connecting to others in the world and that is why you have established a "Skype" center in every school that teachers can sign up to use.
  58. You believe technology 'know how' is important and that is why you have a mandated semester-long technology course that all high school students must take in their freshmen year.
  59. You once tried to use Google docs in order to develop a admin agenda, but believe that it is more productive to email the document to your staff and get individual feedback.
  60. You have no idea what any of these symbols mean:


  1. Ug. And it doesn't stop at primary/secondary ed. Higher ed is locked into these beliefs as well.

  2. @Bruce, Yes I agree. Worked as a professor. :)

  3. Comprehensive list!
    I particularly love the 60th. :)

  4. THanks Cristina. I thought #60 was succinct:)

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