Thursday, January 24, 2008

Put Your Ideas Here...

There has been a lot of chat over the last few weeks in the mass of content I read about social networks and collaborative tools. The debates range from should we use them, if so how, does it really impact learning, are we preparing our kids correctly, and many variations on those themes.

Here is where I am at -

  1. Good schools still start with good teachers
  2. Good teachers with good resources can better reach their students and teach skills
  3. Students with more resources are better prepared for the educational environment
  4. Parents that have high expectations and encourage their kids make it a lot easier for schools
  5. Technology is still an amplifier in many ways - it makes good teaching better and bad teaching worse
  6. Technology can really help instruction in 3 ways - that are completely new to education (it can also stop it when used incorrectly)
    1. Efficacy through Information - It can speed up communication and can increase the amount of information available to all stakeholders. That information can flow to multiple people in multiple directions in many different formats. This information can empower all members of the educational community to make better, more informed decisions.
    2. Flattening time and space - It can break down the walls of our classrooms and make them 24/7 collaborative learning environments while bringing students in contact with different people, times, places, and ideas that were never available before in our closed classrooms
    3. New Creations - there are new products and projects that can be done with technology that could never be done before. Learners can be engaged in different highly stimulated mediums. There is a greater ability to share work and ideas.
Here is where I am going -

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am working with a company to design a totally new web environment for my district. It will serve as a CMS and will function like any other good website for getting content up to the web. That is Phase 1 and will be done in a few months.

Phase 2 is where changes really start to happen. We will be developing a web-based collaborative web-based environment that will provide the school community with the collaborative tools they need for making an impact through technology. Here are some of the things I know will be there for each student, teacher, staff member, and parent:
Dynamic Calendars and Announcements - including assignments
Teacher/Classroom Blogs
RSS Aggregator
The ability to share the following with anyone or any group in the organization (this includes students):
RSS Feeds

Here is my question to you - what "tools" would you put there to bring what is great on the web - that helps accomplish the goals I have listed above?