I have long felt that the office is the least technologically advanced place at school. As an assistant principal, I can influence change by advocating Smartboards, considering the BYOD movement, and providing professional development options for faculty. However, in all of this, I am not actually using any of the technology in my classroom, which so happens to be the school, not directly anyway. It is entirely possible for a school to be tech savvy and provide great technology options for students while the office continues to run the same as always. This is one of the primary reasons I embarking on this COETAIL journey. I want the office to use technology as much as the students and the teachers. I want to move forward and do new things in new ways, as Prensky advocates in Shaping Tech for the Classroom.
The office is a perfect example of doing old things in old ways. Yes, we have moved to e-mail or Moodle as a primary source of communication, but we are still communicating about the same things: student affairs, assembly schedules, dress code checks, weekly bulletins, and mass thank you cards via e-mail, which I will argue is not progress at all as a handwritten card or a public verbal thank you is far more personal and meaningful. We share a strategy of the week, which is meant to be thought-provoking and connected to learning we wish faculty to be engaged in at the time. However, in some ways, I think e-mail has desensitized information sharing. Far too often, e-mails go unread or misunderstood.
We do have great database systems, but these are also used in old ways. We store information, generate reports and yes, these things may get done faster and we may have quicker access, but in the end, I am sure we not using the programs to their greatest potential. Perhaps e-mailing detailed attendance reports to parents on a weekly basis hovers on old things in new ways. Perhaps. It does enhance communication and allows for greater communication on a more frequent basis with a greater number of students. However, information is still delayed. As I write this, I wonder if there is a way to tweet a parent each time a student arrives late or is absent. That would really keep them informed, day-by-day, hour-by-hour.
Moving our Learning Colleagues Program for new teachers to Moodle is probably one example of doing old things in new ways. The meetings and discussion are totally online, enabling teachers to share on their own time line as opposed to weekly or monthly meetings. I would love to move more meetings online, especially committee meetings where work can be produced using Wikis and other file-sharing technology.
I bought a Mac and then an IPhone 4 because I want to start creating weekly podcasts. Time has been my greatest barrier…well, perhaps, no. Perhaps it is my lack of skill and practice, which do take time.
However, even creating podcasts is not going to dramatically change the way the office is run. It might be a more digitalized and advanced newsletter, but it is still a newsletter, and those have been around for hundreds of years.
I love my RSS feeds and those have greatly enhanced my professional reading and knowledge in just a few short weeks. I am currently creating my unit plan to involve getting all faculty to use an RSS feeder. This is a small step in the right direction, but I want to use this leap year to leap before I look. I welcome any ideas for how administration can run new things in new ways. What does that look like?