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#8635942 Oct 28, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
Envoy
45 Posts
This is the question being asked by ISTE's Learning and Leading with Technology magazine.

The saga over the L.A. Schools’ iPad program has provided a roller-coaster overview of some of the new challenges facing schools in the digital age: In June, the L.A. Unified School District announced it was investing $1 billion to provide every student with an iPad in an effort to level the academic playing field for low-income students. In September, the district released hundreds of devices that came complete with blocks on popular but prohibited websites, including YouTube and Facebook. It took only a week before many students found an easy away around the security measures. The school district responded by asking for all 300 iPads back and halting the program until it could find a way to make the students use the tablets for school work alone. Some critics, however, have asserted that figuring out how to hack the devices was an appropriate use of digital age skills—including tech use, creativity, and problem solving—and that we should be encouraging rather than punishing it. What do you think?

Also take a look at the digital age skills/NETS standards that ISTE has created as well the operational definition of computational thinking

Please discuss here in the Games MOOC forum but also feel free to reply on the ISTE LinkedIn site.
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?featured=&gid=2811

You will need to request permission to join the group, but they are looking to publish two 400 word essays on this in their Point/Counterpoint in a future issue.
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#8636496 Oct 28, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Initiate
110 Posts
I'll be honest, I think blocking FaceBook/YouTube was the wrong approach to take, and have very little problem with the students getting around it. I think we should teach students about using digital devices responsibly, instead of placing arbitrary restrictions on what students can do.

I don't know that I'd try to encourage the behavior of "getting around the rules", because that can lead to other problems. Instead of that, I'd try to figure out ways to encourage students to follow the rules willingly, from the beginning, without having to resort to forcing the students into following the rules.

Taking the iPads back afterwards though...is totally the wrong approach, and is just going to make a bad situation worse.
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#8640972 Oct 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Herald
60 Posts
I agree with blueAppaloosa. The restrictions that schools place on certain sites seem arbitrary and ill-informed. YouTube is a great learning resource, both for formal learning (my college students will watch a short YouTube video on how to cite sources in a heartbeat, but won't touch their writing handbook with a ten-foot pole) and informal learning (my 10 yo son loves watching YouTube videos that show him glitches and hacks for his favorite video games). We should be encouraging learning and a love for learning, not policing where/how students learn. Yes, teach them responsible use of open information sources because they're using them anyway at home. I'm honestly not surprised the kids hacked the iPads; it sounds like the school district took an exciting tool that makes learning, connecting, and creating easier amd turned it into a boring electronic textbook.
a.k.a. Tanya Sasser
English Instructor
Jacksonville State University
@TanyaSasser
Remixing College English
“I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one who must walk through it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
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#8641041 Oct 29, 2013 at 01:12 PM
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108 Posts
I agree with both of you that the school made a poor decision. I do understand it, though, because I work at a school, and you would not believe how angry some parents get if their children are exposed to questionable material, even by accident. Last week I was teaching a religion class and pulled up a YouTube video on the Ten Commandments. The suggested videos on the side?

1. "Hot Girls Don't Poop"
2. "Atheists Destroy Idiots Who Believe in God"

And a bunch of other stuff, but those top two were the ones that had me scrambling to turn off the projector, because I didn't notice them right away.

So no, I don't think schools should ban those sites, but we need to open a discussion about how we deal with inappropriate materials. The second one wasn't so bad because it was a good opportunity for discussion, but the first one would have been a disaster if the kids had noticed (fortunately, they didn't).

This is such a complicated issue to me. On the kids' side:

-Hacking, in many ways, IS a 21st century skill. Good for them.
-The school blocked valuable learning resources
-Students are raised to see this type of restriction as unreasonable and getting around it not as cheating, but as almost righteous

On the school's side:

-Schools are answerable to parents. One angry parent can take away something like YouTube for an entire school
-Students should not necessarily be taught that they have the right to do anything they want with technology (as blueAppaloosa said). If they have the right to hack iPads, do they have the right to illegally download movies?

Argh. I don't know if I have an opinion, other than: there's no easy answer.
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#8641052 Oct 29, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Initiate
108 Posts
MinaZedworld: You are so right, btw, about schools taking things like iPads and turning them into textbooks. So many teachers, sometimes including myself, have NO idea what to do with technology once it's in their classrooms.
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#8642582 Oct 29, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Herald
60 Posts
#8641052 missrithenay wrote:

MinaZedworld: You are so right, btw, about schools taking things like iPads and turning them into textbooks. So many teachers, sometimes including myself, have NO idea what to do with technology once it's in their classrooms.



I taught secondary ed. before switching to higher ed., so I totally understand that this exists across all levels of ed. I remember when my school library purchased an ELMO, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I was using it to share student writing during writing workshop and literature circle products during discussions of readings. But I was the only one using it because the other teachers didn't know how to use it or how to integrate it into their lessons. Ditto with the fancy smart boards everyone had installed in their rooms (I didn't use mine either because of lack of training and time to figure it out on my own). I took the initiative and asked the school librarian to train me on how to use it; I think librarians are one of education's least utilized resources when it comes to new tech tools. And sometimes you just have to give the students a gadget and see what they can figure out it can do. Then figure out how you can translate that into a way to engage with and create course content.
a.k.a. Tanya Sasser
English Instructor
Jacksonville State University
@TanyaSasser
Remixing College English
“I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one who must walk through it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
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#8643291 Oct 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Edited over 5 years ago
Initiate
110 Posts
Schools are answerable to parents. One angry parent can take away something like YouTube for an entire school


Yeah, I was kinda thinking about this too. I teach at the college level, so this is a bit less of a problem for me. I don't entirely know what the answer here is, but I think some parents get a bit unreasonable about stuff (i.e. "my family is vegan, so I don't want my child exposed to the idea that turkeys might be eaten for Thanksgiving").

I've had similar things to the"interesting" suggestions on YouTube happen when showing students stuff on the web, but I largely just ignore it. I might get some giggles or snickers, but I figure that at this point I'm teaching adults and they can deal with it (or start learning now).
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#8643929 Oct 30, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Herald
32 Posts
#8641041 missrithenay wrote:



-Schools are answerable to parents.



Here's what's interesting. Schools are not answerable to parents. They seem to be, but they aren't. Schools are answerable to the Board of Trustees/Directors that govern the school districts by setting policies. The upper administration like the Superintendents and school-based administration like principals are meant to enforce these policies. There are also, in Alberta anyway, things called "School Councils" where stakeholders like parents and community members can meet with administration and advise the Board indirectly on policy. That said, the Board is the Board and if the Board isn't in session, then policy can't be set.

As many surprised Edmonton parents discovered, issuing a grade of 0 for incomplete assignments was against the policy of the Edmonton Public School Board. This upset many, many, many of the hard-working Albertans whose reality dictates that 0 work should equal 0 reward. Their ire alone, however, was not enough to change this somewhat counter-intuitive school board policy (or the firing of the populist "renegade" teacher who defied the policy).

There is at least one defensible reason that such a policy might exist. Had there been a different Board in place, they might have interpreted the situation as a way to educate the public about assessment and why a 0 isn't the most useful grade to assign if you want to work towards mastery and success. Instead, they acquiesced to the vitriol and, in relatively short order, drafted a different policy.

But did they have to change the policy? Nope. And this is my point: One parent cannot set policy. Even a whole ranting angry mob of parents can't set policy. School Boards exist to prevent taxpayer dollars from being spent without oversight, but everyone reading this can probably come up with their own reason that the L.A. iPad hack is not a situation where educators were negligent. Indeed, the failure to capitalize on the major teachable moment related to digital citizenship and the idea of property in the information age is the negligent bit. This district had the opportunity to lead the discussion and to actually be the lighthouse that the 1B$ tech spending suggested they were hoping to be.

You don't shut off the internet because Billy's Mom doesn't like him to see the word "Poop" at school. As educators, we have to stop being afraid of Billy's Mom and petition our own school boards to be the leaders they fancy themselves to be. Trusting professionals to act professionally has enormous benefits...and trusting Trustees to govern effectively with policies that lead public education can as well.
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#8645489 Oct 30, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Initiate
108 Posts
badbuddha0:

I 100%, completely agree with you that we do NOT shut down the internet because one parent is upset, and you're right that parents, in the end, do not have the final say in what happens in a school (I am also in Alberta, by the way).

Tracing it back, though, I do have to say that as a teacher, I'm not answerable to parents per se, but I am answerable to my administrator, my school board, and my superintendent. So a lot of what I can do in my classroom depends on how they perceive their role and parental involvement. I don't want to get into specifics of my school board, which is pretty good, but I know that for many teachers across North America, there's a constant fear that if they anger a parent, they will face ire not only from that parent but from their superiors at work.

And to a degree, parents DO have a right to decide what their kids are exposed to at an elementary level. But there are limits; there have to be. A parent annoyed that a third grade teacher showed a violent movie peppered with swear words? Justifiable. A parent annoyed that her vegan child was exposed to the idea of eating meat? Not so much. I think the problem is that we don't know where those limits are anymore.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at here is that I completely agree with you, for obvious reasons: we SHOULD trust educators to be professionals and make professional decisions, and the educators in LA were in no way negligent. If anything, it sounds like their board fell victim to this idea of "God forbid we upset anyone, so let's block everything."

So I guess my question is, how do you suggest educators go about petitioning their boards to stand up for letting teachers be professionals? I don't mean that in a confrontational way -- I think it's a fantastic idea and EXACTLY what needs to happen, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on how we can empower teachers to take that sort of initiative.
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#8646160 Oct 30, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Herald
32 Posts
Right. Since you and I are in the same provincial jurisdiction, our worlds are more alike than, say, American districts. But whatever district you are in, the question of empowering professionals to take risks inside an often risk-averse environment is important.

Two MOOCs ago, I shared a document that I am still developing. The document is a sort of "user's manual" for administrative staff (written with the principal in mind). The main thrust of the document as I have prepared it is for enterprising professionals to develop proofs of concept that can demonstrate increases in student achievement. Basically, applying small changes, recording observations and comparing data over a few terms related to how the students did. Basically, it is applying the principle of "it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission."

The bottom line is this: Your admin staff is busy and is likely to be a risk-averse set of people. So, a proof of concept that you can plunk onto your admin's desk goes a heck of a lot farther than a description of your idea will. By what I can tell, you are already fairly empowered in your current position, so the next step is the Board.

While I haven't written anything on that just yet, you are absolutely right that your admin is the gatekeeper. Luckily, gates go both ways! Just as the principal will be directed by superintendents to enforce certain policies, a deft proof of concept that helps your principal make a case (i.e. something that makes the Principal's life easier) is worth its weight in gold. This is the kind of thing that the Principal can share with his/her boss who often has the ear of at least a few Board members.

The key is, like you do, to do good work and to show it off! It will be infectious and, especially if you can connect your work to improving performance on district outcomes, you can elevate the entire discussion! (By they way, this WHOLE process is made even stronger when parents can be constructively co-opted...you can make HUGE allies by calling home and remarking on positive progress and, when you can relate that to what is going on in your class, the parents talk to the Principal about it...they can become an army of supporters!)

This is a very general response, but all related to stuff I have seen happen in a variety of situations. It's definitely an exercise in tribe-building but we are really well-positioned to do that...people WANT to help us when they see how much fun their kids are having at school!

I would love to talk more about this! Drop me a line @ScottMeunier or on here as well!

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#8646667 Oct 30, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Initiate
110 Posts
I have to admit, the discussion of the workings of elementary schools is rather interesting. I teach at the college level, so the problems/politics of k-12 is rather foreign to me.

In general, I do think parents should have some say in what their children are exposed to. However they also need to understand that, by living in a society with other people, they must also accept what that society deems appropriate. I agree with missrithenay that it's hard to tell where these lines are anymore.
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#8648559 Oct 31, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Initiate
108 Posts
That document is awesome! For myself I'm lucky to have fairly supportive admin (especially since, like you, I believe in the asked forgiveness rather than permission mentality). I think it is very nerve-racking for teachers to approach school boards. But hopefully, as time goes on, communication will expand between school boards, administrators, and teachers. We should chat more - it's nice to have another Albertan in the mix! Until now, I was the only local person I knew interested in GBL. Well, semi local... I'm in lethbridge.

BlueAppaloosa is right: much of it is politics. That's unfortunate. But we keep doing our jobs regardless :)

Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#8655387 Nov 01, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Herald
32 Posts
We should totally chat more! I noticed that you were Albertan in the last MOOC and I really admired the work I saw in your blog. Since I am a charter school principal, I am closer to our board than most principals might be. I have been tinkering with the idea of what a game-based charter school in Alberta might be like...and I love connecting with locals with a like mind!

you can get me at @ScottMeunier on Twitter and facebook.com/ScottCameronMeunier on Facebook.

Our school's page is HERE.
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#8655557 Nov 01, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Initiate
108 Posts
Game charter school in Alberta... that would be very cool.

We are an unofficial charter type school... our official title is St Patrick Fine Arts Elementary, but we never completed the paperwork to actually be considered a fine arts school by law.

I already follow you on Twitter -- I'll meet up with you on FB!
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#8659633 Nov 02, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Herald
32 Posts
Please do...I want to find out about THAT loophole! That's very interesting!
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#9427150 Apr 25, 2014 at 04:08 AM
177 Posts
Also take a look at the digital age skills/NETS standards that ISTE has created as well.

Tekken Pc Game

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