"Now You Can Blog!" Published 2006-04-29

Recently, a friend of mine was lamenting about his school's "technology plan" which included the provision for LDC projectors in every classroom. The problem was that most projectors provided were of such low quality that the room had to be completely dark for the projected image to be clear. Furthermore, his setup required a fifteen foot extension cord running across the room. (Not the safest in any classroom much less one that is completely dark.)

He was citing this as an example of the disconnect between "the plan" and "the implementation". And his story is nothing new. Many technology plans and the projects that result suffer from lack of leadership to ensure proper implementation. In some cases, what is lacking is the leadership to get the necessary people together to work out the impact of a project on the various systems that it touches. In this case, the project lacked the leadership to rollout the projectors in phases so that problems could be discovered and fixed.

But the biggest aspect missing from most technology projects is the leadership required after the hardware and software are in place. Specifically, I am speaking of the leadership to ensure that the technology is being used to further the projects intended goals.

I mentioned this to my friend after asking him what his fellow teachers were doing (or wanted to do) with the projectors. As expected, he indicated that the school had provided no vision or context for the installation of the projectors nor did it offer any training or discussion on how to exploit the educational benefits from having a LCD projector in the class. Sure there were sessions on how to create a PowerPoint presentation but none that addressed how to create a presentation that enhances learning!

All of this is said in the context of blogging. As anyone who has been successful in using blogging technology to enhance learning will tell you, the technology is the easy part. It is the implementation of pedagogical practices that is challenging.

Continuing with the conversation with my friend, he told me that he had received a memo titled "Now You Can Blog", celebrating the launch of the school's blogging software that will allow all teachers to setup blogs for their classes. No mention of training or workshops other than directions on the technical steps of creating and post to a blog.

It is certainly wonderful to hear of schools embracing technology as a means of enhancing learning. But schools that rollout new technology without providing the leadership to affect learning are doing a disservice to the work that I and many others are attempting. A technology venture without provisions for modeling, encouraging, and assisting enhanced learning is at best just going to be a fun toy and at worst be a complete waste of money making it all the more difficult to implement a truly well provisioned technology project that will affect education.

2 comments:

Miguel said...

So, then, what would your leadership statement about blogging in schools be like or about? Here's an example:
http://itls.saisd.net/scribe

What is your vision for this initiative?

Curious,
Miguel Guhlin

rob banning said...

Miguel,

Great question and it motivated me to write on the general topic in a separate post.

But in regard to blogging, I would offer the following vision:

• Define success as blogs benefiting learning and promoting the exploration of contemporary teaching methodologies and learning skills such as formative and authentic assessment and reflective learning.

• Build a beta community that would have the experience and expertise to assist teachers new to blogging and promote blogging as a teaching tool.

• Develop a training system that addresses both the technical as well as the education aspects of blogging. This is a perfect place to introduce use of formative and authentic assessment and the importance of reflective learning.

• Create a blog where teachers can post/discuss their experiences working with blogs in their curriculum. Encourage a system of tagging the posts that will facilitate easy access to topics for teachers looking for specific information.

• Promote blogging by celebrating success stories highlighting the benefits to learning.

Thank you for the link to SCRIBE. I really like the idea of combining blogging and digital storytelling (a natural fit). Good luck on the project.