Pinch Me, I must Be Dreaming!

After finishing up our second and last day of ActivBoard training today I was talking with Mark Skoff, our school district’s Technology Program Coordinator (translation: He gets a teacher’s salary and puts out every edtech fire in a district of 65,000 students). He was explaining about what our plans are for next year. We are rolling out 200+ classrooms that will have ActivBoards, but he went on to mention that we have already purchased video iPods for podcasting and vidcasting classes for teachers next year – more digital photo classes – PDA classes – and the possibility of iPhone classes – they are serious! Realize that when you take any of these classes you get (for free to use with your students) the iPod or camera or PDA OR iPhone!!!

The reason this excites me as much as it does is that not even 2 years ago we blocked almost everything – Flickr, blogs, wikis, Skype are not blocked now and they are even talking about unblocking MySpace and other sites IF teachers take trainings in best practice use with students. Not even 2 years ago the classes offered beside one digital video class per year – a couple digital photo classes and some PDA classes were 3 classes on Word, 3 classes on Powerpoint and 2 classes on Excel … oh and classes on Groupwise (our e-mail client) and EasyGrade Pro, that was it. Attitude toward edtech was ..”just be happy doing Powerpoint presentations and Word docs with your students … and use the net, but not too much.” Those of us doing Marsopolis were hassled some about setting up yahoo email accounts in our classrooms so students could communicate with each other between schools – IT was really uncomfortable with that.

So what happened to change minds? (because pretty much the same people are in charge of Ed tech and IT now as were then). Some higher ups have been to some conferences, some of our edtech people finally “got it” how restrictive and narrow minded some of our policies are, and the few of us that were doing things anyhow raised awareness for how powerful web 2.0 is and could be. Like the title says: Pinch Me, I must Be Dreaming! Oh, and so I guess this is more news that keeps me optimistic about finally making some progress towards trying some new ways and new tools. Yea!!!

This entry was posted in ActivBoard, Change, Education, Podcast, Project Based, Student Access, Teacher Access, Technology, Video Skype, Web 2.0, Wikis. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pinch Me, I must Be Dreaming!

  1. Excellent. It makes me so happy to hear stories like this one when we usually hear of people whose districts are going the other way. Now it is absolutely essential that the power of these possibilities is proven (that’s a lot of “p’s” in one sentence…) through using them to complete projects that would not be possible without them. Great news!

  2. Margo Jantzi says:

    Best wishes as you tryout all of these new exciting learning endeavors in the classrooms.

    I’m still dreaming and making baby steps in our school district. My students are the ones who will benefit from my thinking beyond the box in these areas.

    Warmly,
    MJ

  3. Mark Ahlness says:

    Brian, this is just so fantastic, wow! I teach in one of those districts Clarence talks about, and this has been the absolute worst year with tech stuff and my district – ever.

    So when I hear this incredibly positive story from you, I don’t necessarily gain hope, I just plain feel good, happy for you that there is progress and innovation where you teach. Enjoy the ride, you certainly deserve it! You are making a difference for all of us, ultimately. Thank you.

  4. Jim Gates says:

    Congratulations! I’m excited for you. I hear about districts all over PA that block everything and then complain because the teachers aren’t using it. DUH!

    I hope your staff knows how fortunate they are to finally be getting the tools back.

  5. You are very lucky. I’d like to hear more specifics about what changed their minds, and how other districts, like mine, can turn the nightmare into a dream like yours.

  6. Brian says:

    Brian Backman – I wish I knew for sure. One seemed to be a bit of a break in IT mindset. For awhile we did nothing to upset the IT department – if they didn’t like something then edtech person said, “OK forget it, we won’t do that.” Now the edtech guy has become very “enlightened” and pushes things I thought were radical (MySpace, YouTube – he feels they should be unblocked if teachers take a tech ethics class). Maybe he has gone to so many edtech conferences that it finally sunk in??? Also we got Mark mentioned above and he has been great at pushing things to the head edtech guy. Wish I could pass on the magic, but I’m not sure. I’ll pass it though if I find out!!!!
    Brian

  7. Tony Searl says:

    Wow in two years that is fantastic progress. I am hopeful and resiliant that our NSW DET will eventually ‘get it’ and start to change. Stories like these inspire me to stay focused on what is right. Thank you.

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