School principals are in the blogosphere, they’re podcasting, and now they’re on YouTube. Four NAESP members are featured on YouTube in a 60-second public service announcement discussing the future of schools and the Vision 2021 initiative. You can access the video on the YouTube Web site by typing “NAESP” into the search engine.
YouTube is just two years old but continues to be a favorite site for sharing and viewing short video clips and has even made a mark in the political arena. Earlier this year, CNN aired a presidential debate and candidates answered questions submitted by YouTube users.
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, nearly 100 million video clips are viewed daily on YouTube and the site averages nearly 20 million visitors per month. Now we can add school principals to the list!
Are you considering upgrading educational software in your building? Before you do, consider the Department of Education’s recently released report on the impact of educational technology on student learning. The study was mandated by NCLB and concentrated on first-, fourth-, and sixth-grade math and reading classes. It found that classes using selected software did not score significantly higher on texts than classes that did not use the software. “Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort,” is the first of two reports from the study—the second report will focus on the effectiveness of individual products. A research report in NAESP’s Principal also investigated the link between technology and student achievement.
In October, the Principals' Office wrote about a campaign to encourage more principals to blog. Scott McLeod, from the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, launched the project “100 principal blogs in 100 days” to increase the number of principals in the blogosphere. Although McLeod hasn’t reached the 100-day goal yet, 54 principals have asked him to set up blogs. One of the participants reported that updating a blog was easier than updating the school’s Web site and very similar to writing an e-mail message. (Believe it or not, it really is that simple.) Before McLeod started the project, which ends January 31, he found only 12 principals among 125,000 U.S. schools who were using blogs to post information, calendars, pictures and their own personal observations online. McLeod believes more principals will sign on once they see the value of blogging.
In this week’s Education Week, NAESP’s executive director Vincent Ferrandino and NASSP’s executive director Gerald Tirozzi discuss the digital divide in our nation’s schools and the need to ensure that children don’t get left behind in the digital revolution.
The Dallas Morning News reports that more school districts are replacing hardbound textbooks with electronic textbooks, including three districts in Texas. The reason? E-books can be accessed online or downloaded onto a laptop computer and can be updated more frequently than traditional textbooks. But the article doesn’t mention the still prevalent digital divide. What happens if a student doesn’t have access to a computer? Or if the school district doesn’t have enough funding to provide laptops for all of the students? The digital divide may have decreased, but there is still a divide. Check out Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003, the most recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics. Tell us what you think. Are e-books the wave of the future?
Yesterday, they weighed in on whether educators are being left behind when it comes to new technology. Today, principals discuss how they try to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.
Alabama Principal Frank Buck writes: For me, reading has been the key to staying up on trends in technology. Subscriptions to several tech-related magazines, participation in several listservs, and trying to catch a webinar here and there, help me to stay somewhat abreast of where our world is headed. A wise man once told me, "Be not the first the embrace the new or the last to set aside the old," and I try to heed that advice as I read.
Arizona Principal Stephen Poling writes: School districts need strong technology plans that are integrated into the teaching and learning that is taking place in the classrooms. We need to be brave, think big, and plan small steps along the way to keep schools a relevant place for kids.
Missouri Principal Teresa Tulipana writes: Staying up with the latest technology can be challenging. Thankfully, I work in a district that values technology as a tool for learning as well as a tool for making our work more efficient. Every month the district’s technology department provides a 30 minute mini-training for the administrative team. The training is embedded into our regular administrator meetings and ranges from Outlook Tips to How to Effectively Prepare a Power Point Presentation. Oftentimes there are also topics specific to new technology such as our PDA’s or online benchmark assessments. Another great resource is the free publication Edutopia, which is produced by the George Lucas Education Foundation and focuses on innovative teaching and learning using a variety of media.
Montana Principal Pat Hould writes: I am blessed to have three staff members who are very technology savvy and I seek their counsel often. One of my staff has a designated class period as our technology liaison and her specific job during that daily period is to assist staff directly with their tech questions. Our district has two technology specialists and I utilize their assistance for "help" type support when my staff is unable to assist me. The support I have described is primarily troubleshooting in nature, but it does allow me to stay current with the software programs that are utilized within our district.
Oklahoma Principal Jan Borelli writes: Staying up-to-date with technology is simply a matter of using it. I began writing a blog a couple of years ago. I have met other bloggers, and they have introduced me to things that developed my skills. Using technology is an evolving process. The more you use it, the more you learn to use it. The word to keep an eye out for is Pod casting.
Remember floppy disks and reel-to-reel projectors and when we called the Internet the “information superhighway?” Changes in technology occur so frequently that if you blink, you might miss them. It can be a challenge for educators to keep pace when their students are often 10 steps ahead of them. We asked some principals whether they feel that educators are being left behind in technology and here’s what they had to say...
Alabama Principal Frank Buck writes: Being on the "cutting edge" is really hard, because the "edge" never stays still. On the other hand, the basics of word processing and spreadsheet management have been around for over 20 years now, and an amazing number of teachers still think "cut and paste" is something you do with scissors and glue. Offer a technology workshop on the basics, and you won't find them there. Who do you find? The teachers who are already pretty good with technology, see it as a friend, and want to take their skills to the next level.
Montana Principal Pat Hould writes: Unless educators are able to participate in meaningful and sustained staff development opportunities, we will be left behind. Technology training, if it is truly going to be meaningful, must be ongoing and not offered as a stand alone or "drive-by" type in-service. Summer institutes and/or weekend type trainings, coupled with ongoing tech support "in house," seem to be the best sources of technology development for my staff.
Missouri Principal Teresa Tulipana writes: Technology is expensive and for educators to not be left behind, school districts must budget with technology in mind. When budgets cannot support the technology needs of a school, grants should be pursued, like the eMINTS program. Having said this, I still see pockets of educators who struggle to turn on a laptop or to effectively search the Internet. Administrators must provide numerous opportunities for teachers to stretch their technological skills; administrators should highlight staff who embed technology into their curriculum and classrooms; and, most importantly, administrators must strive to keep current and model the effective use of technology.
Oklahoma Principal Jan Borelli writes: There must be a sound technology leader in the district who can not only drive innovation, but also make it inviting. I think we will see a change in a lot of things... particularly how we assess students. Our state is now beginning testing some students on the computer... it's easier, cheaper, and is coming... keep an eye out for it.
Arizona Principal Stephen Poling writes: The students are many steps ahead with technology, which is just fine. That should motivate educators to try to catch up so that we can engage students to use technology. Looking at the popularity of sites like You Tube and My Space should give educators ideas as well as incentives to see how we can use those types of mediums for teaching the standards. If educators aren’t careful, we will be too far behind in technology to engage kids in learning.
Do you think educators are being left behind? Let us know your thoughts.
Tomorrow, read how these principals stay abreast of the latest technological changes.