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EdTech Update





Don't confuse social networking with educational networking

Facebook Now Growing By Over 700,000 Users A Day - AllFacebook, Feb 27, 2009

I will be the first to admit that I don't really understand the attraction of Facebook and its ilk. Yes, I have a Facebook page and have some professional colleagues and family members as "friends," but the site is not something I check or use on a regular basis.

I mentioned Facebook today in a workshop I gave here in SC during a "Tool Talk." (!0 web 2.0 tools in about 20 minutes.) When I introduce Facebook, I basically say the same thing I said in the first paragraph - I don't see the fascination, and more over, I don't see its educational usefulness. Other Web 2.0 tools, yes; Facebook no. But I do believe educators need to have a familiarity with Facebook and even use it personally, just to know what kids (and a rapidly growing number of parents) are up to.

A question was raised I had not before considered: Should a teacher "friend" his/her students on Facebook? My off the cuff response was absolutely not. I thought it violated the teacher/student relationship and could lead to actual or perceived inappropriate interactions.

So it was a relief to see Nancy Willard's strongly worded email to WWWedu today second my opinion. She writes:

Any teacher who links to a student on MySpace or Facebook is an ABSOLUTE FOOL!!!!! I strongly support and advise district policies against this for 2 reasons:

  1. There is a vast amount of flirting that goes on on these sites. Student get crushes on teachers. When a teacher gets a flirtatious message from a student, that teacher is already in trouble. Respond back with warmth and you are an online predator. Respond critically and the student could exact revenge. The teachers who are most likely to get into major trouble are the younger ones – who have not had to deal with student crushes before and who may still be in the flirting online mode. The risks include arrest and life as a registered sex offender.
  2. People on these sites send friendship requests to friends of people they have linked to. A teacher would become the “guarantor” of all of his or her online friends – including all of the material these friends post and the friend’s interactions with students.

This being said, it is exceptionally important for teachers and student to be communicating in these interactive environments. Which means schools must set up carefully managed and monitored interactive environments.

Are we confusing social and educational networking? Again, Nancy warns:

There is – and should remain – a vast difference between “social media” and “educational media.” When educators blur the distinctions, this causes significant problems.

Are schools making this distinction in policy-making?

Image from

Vote early and often - ISTE Board election is on


ISTE Members should have already received the information below via e-mail, but a reminder never hurts.

I hesitate to endorse individuals since I certainly don't know every candidate. My experience has been that the board members who are running for a second term are wise choices. You get experience and confidence from these folks. I've had the pleasure of serving with Ferdi Serim, Jeanne Biddle, Stephen Rainwater, Ralph Leonard, Carla Wade and Howard Levin and can vouch for the dedication and unique perspective each brings to ISTE leadership.

I would also highly recommend a vote for Annette Smith for the Affliiate slot on the board. I've worked with Annette on AASL committees and her experience and values as a library media specialist would be a benefit to the board. (SIGMS people - vote!)

Candidate profiles and link to online ballot. (Yes, you need to be an ISTE Member to vote and will need to remember your login and password. Write it down this time for goodness sakes!)

Welcome to the 2009 ISTE Board election! Online voting for open seats on the ISTE Board of Directors begins March 10, 2009 and lasts through midnight (PT) April 10, 2009.

This election year, with such vibrant hope in Washington, D.C. to improve teaching and learning through the systemic use of technology, we want to encourage full participation by all ISTE members. We urge you to review the candidate profiles and VOTE.

Please take the time to participate in the management of your professional organization. Cast your ballot for the members of the ISTE Board of Directors who will represent you.


Helen L. Padgett, PhD
President-Elect, ISTE
Chair, Nominations and
Appointments Committee

Trina J. Davis, PhD
President, ISTE

P.S. You will need your ISTE member login to view the slate of candidates, read their profiles and statements, and vote. As you know, voting is a benefit—and a responsibility—of membership.


Personal responsibility for learning

Within the next 5 years ... all librarians will be expected to take personal responsibility for their own professional development; each of us will evolve or die. Budget pressures will force administrators to confront the "psychological shadow" cast by tenure and pseudo-tenure that has inhibited them from performing meaningful evaluations and taking necessary personnel actions. Librarians who do not produce will be reassigned or fired. - from Taiga 4 Provacative Statements 2009.

Teachers are learners. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be teachers. In a world where we can engage in our passions through the affordances of connective technologies online, we need to be thinking about how to personalize the learning of the adults in the room as well as the kids. This is not the easy route, by any stretch, but it’s the best route if we’re serious about moving the education of our kids to a different place. Will Richardson, Personalizing Education for Teachers Too.

I have long advocated for an IEP for every teacher. (Now That You Know the Basics, Leading & Learning, 2001.) An idea, I'm afraid, ahead of its time. It worked for us for a couple years, then faded...

Is this a likely staff development scenario in your district?

Mike’s Plan for Improving His Students’ Writing Abilities (Rubric II*)
One of the goals of the middle school where Mike taught Language Arts was to improve student writing. Working with his language arts curriculum chair and building staff development committee, Mike’s professional growth plan included:

  • Reviewing current literature and interviewing one of the state’s “best practices” experts on process writing and the use of technology.
  • Attending the state’s technology conference to attend sessions and see demonstrations of writing software.
  • Taking a class in and experimenting with prewriting software (Inspiration) on two student writing assignments.
  • Using individual portable computers (AlphaSmarts) on two writing assignments.
  • Comparing the results of the technology-enhanced writing products with those using standard writing practices.

Mike’s portfolio included:

  • Printouts of three articles summarizing current uses of technology.
  • Sample “concept maps” generated by students in his classes as a part of prewriting assignments.
  • Writing samples of individual students evidencing differences between handwritten work and word-processed work.
  • A brief summary of his observations on using technology as a part of the writing process. (Prewriting software led some students to better organization and more depth in their writing; spelling, readability, and enthusiasm improved when students used the portable computers; a lack of keyboarding skills prevented many students from writing with the portable computers successfully.)
  • Mike found that his experiences supported what research and best practices were saying about technology and writing, and he plans to keep using both the prewriting software and portable computers next year.

* II. Using technology to improve student writing

Level 1 I am not familiar with any technologies that would allow me to help my students improve their writing skills.
Level 2 I ask that the final draft of some student writing assignments be word processed. I do not expect or encourage my students to compose or edit using the computer.
Level 3 I help students use the computer in all phases of the writing process from brainstorming to concept mapping to editing. This includes the use of idea generators, portable writing computers, outlining tools, spelling and grammar checkers, and desktop publishing tools. I use technology to help students share their work for a wide reading audience.
Level 4 I store portfolios of my students’ work electronically. I share successful units with others through print and electronic publishing and through conference presentations and workshops. I look for specific technology tools to help my students improve their writing skills.

For such a means of organizing staff development to get a foothold, it will be individual teachers, not staff development coordinators or technology departments, taking the lead by saying, "Here is an alternate plan I believe would be of more use to me than what the district is offering. Can I substitute?"