Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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This past weekend I flew to Vietnam to spend two days with the Senior Management Team (SMT) of the British International School of Vietnam (BISVietnam). A two day retreat that focused on a future with technology and a 1:1 program. 

There are so many different ways to go 1:1 and in my opinion no one right way to do it. There are so many variables that need to be considered that 1:1 programs can look drastically different from one school to the next and still be successful.

Here are a few of the things we discussed:

Money:

money
 

It’s always the elephant in the room and the problem with dreaming of endless possibilities without considering the cost leads one to believe that the dreams can become reality and in many cases it is just not financially feasible to fulfill our wildest technology dreams. As much as we want to say money is not a factor…..at some point it always is.

Infrastructure:

In many countries in Asia this can be the most frustrating part of the whole plan. We all read, watch, and see the amazing things that are happening on the web. However, to do those amazing things you need a web connection. In developing countries like Vietnam the Internet is expensive, unreliable, and most of the time just plain frustrating. BISVietnam currently has a 2MB Internet line for 1600 students. Think about that the next time you want to complain about your Internet speed.

serverroom
 

You can not consider going 1:1 without looking at the cost and feasibility of it from an infrastructure standpoint. Money put into your infrastructure is always well spent but it also means every dollar that goes towards infrastructural improvements is dollars taken away from learning devices. Finding the balance is important.

One thing that I stress is do not spend money on you infrastructure for the future. Support the here and now.

If a school spends money building up an infrastructure that looks to support learning years from now then you’re wasting money. You might know what you will need two or three years from now…but you don’t need that today. The chances are the infrastructure your school will need in the future will get cheaper and faster.

Example: You know you’re going to need more server space as students store more and more data on the Intranet. Calculate how much storage you’ll need this year and next year. But only purchase what you need for this year. By next year the cost of the same storage will be cheaper and faster.

In the end support what you need, not what you want.

Intranet vs The Cloud:

amazonwebservices
 

Really what this should say is Internal Cloud vs External Cloud. Based on the infrastructure that is available to a school, you may need to consider building your own Internal Cloud. Basically turning those old folder heavy Intranet servers into web accessible servers. By making your Intranet Servers accessible via a web browser you can essentially create your own cloud on your campus. You can install programs like WordPress, Elgg, Drupal, and a host of other open-source software that essentially creates your own Internal Cloud system. 

This is a common process in China where access to many cloud services is blocked by the government. If that’s the case, or you don’t have a fast reliable Internet connection then building your own cloud is an option. Shanghai American School is a great example of a school building an internal cloud. Check out there Online Community Portal

At ISB, my current school for 23 more days, we are slowly making the transition from an Internal Cloud to an External Cloud system. When I arrived four years ago we starting building our Internal Cloud system as it was faster and more reliable. As the infrastructure of Thailand has improved and we’ve been able to purchase more bandwidth (20MB when I arrived and 100MB now for 1800 students) we’ve slowly moving to an external cloud. 

Exchange Mail Server to Google Apps – 2011-2012

Hosted Moodle to Externally Hosted LMS – 2012-2013

Internal Hosted Blogs to External Hosted Blogs – 2014

Or something like that. By moving these services to the external cloud we trade servers for Internet speed and reliability. As our speed and reliability increases so can our reliance on the external cloud.

Learning Devices:

Of course this is where we all like to discuss our options. What devices are right for students?  Start with students

The only way to answer this question is to first identify what it is you want students to be doing with the laptops. What kind of experiences do you want them to have, what skills do you want them to gain and what creative products do you want them to produce? 

By first identifying what we want students to do at different grade levels we can then choose the device that meets those needs. 

Again…dreaming here can be dangerous. We must realized and understand that in developing countries we don’t always get the lastest and greatest technology and not every company is currently supporting devices in every country. In Vietnam’s case Apple has no support in Vietnam as of yet. Sure, you can buy Apple products, but any support needed on those products has to be sent out of the country. Coming to the realization of what’s possible and what learning devices you have access to is not always fun…but again is reality. 

Ownership:

apple
 

Ownership is something I think we spend to much time and effort on….as basically you have two options. 

1. School Owned

2. Parent/Student Owned

This decision comes down to two points.

  • Can the school afford to own all the laptops? 
    • If the answer is no…then Parent/Student owned is your only option
    • If the answer is yes….then you need to think about and understand your community
  • Will the school community support a laptop program?
    • Have we done work with the school community in helping them understand the reasoning behind a 1:1 program?
    • How can we move our school culture forward?
    • Can our community afford it?

Administrators must know their community and be willing to hold community sessions to educate the community on the benefits of a 1:1 program. This decision is a school based one. Both options work…it’s picking the best option for your school that is important to success. 

 

In the end, you can look around at what other schools are doing or have done but that will only get you so far. Every school culture and situtation is different, hence there is no one way to roll out a 1:1 program that is magical and perfect. They all have their positives and negatives. At the end of the day make a decision and just do it!

There is more than one way to get a school to start looking at online learning as a way to reach students. As an international educator, I have found no greater motivation to get the conversation started around online learning than planning for the worst…..school closure.

In 2003 it was the attacks on the compound in Riyadh that led my school to think about how we were to educate students if we were to shut our doors. The following year we implemented Moodle and started training teachers.

In 2005 we moved to Shanghai, China and within weeks of getting my feet on the ground I found myself in a meeting talking about how could we sustain learning if SARS was to return to Asia. Luckily SAS did not have to shut their doors during SARS but other schools had to and they were now looking for ways to sustain learning if the worst was to occur. Two months later we install and start using Moodle, we got a couple teacher on board and we started to build a wave of technology users. In my eyes that was the true start to online learning systems at SAS. Of course now they have a whole e-learning portal system and are going 1:1.

A couple days ago I get an e-mail from the leadership team here at ISB who are starting to have conversations around H1N1 and what systems do we have in place that would allow us to carry on the learning process. There have been international schools that have already had short term closures throughout Asia do to H1N1 and just last week we saw our first confirmed case at school.

These are not the best ways to bring attention to e-learning systems, but honestly I’ll take what I can get! 🙂

Here’s the problem with all three of the above stories. Online learning is not something you can “switch on” and do well. There is so much training to be done on both the teachers end and the students end that switching it on is the least of your worries.

Why every classroom should be a blended classroom:

Of course I could go into the learning theory on why I believe every classroom today, especially in the middle school and high school where students are more tech savvy should be a blended model of both classroom learning and online learning…but you can read the rest of this blog for that. 😉

Let’s just look at it from a ‘preparing for the worst’ perspective. If your school or class is already use to using a blended model for learning, moving to a full time model either way is a much shorter jump than moving all the way without having a system in place. Both teachers and students understand how the system works, where to go, what to do. If online learning is just part of their daily routine in school, than we do not need to worry….we just continue on the journey of learning.

In all three stories above I’ve helped my schools start with Moodle:

  1. It’s cost is minimal (free, you just need a server).
  2. Setting up and getting classes going is easy.
  3. It’s secure (walled garden) which both teachers and administrators like and feel comfortable with.
  4. It can do everything you need in one nice package (Not everything….but everything you need)

All three of these schools are in a much better place today to deal with a school closure. Here at ISB most teachers in the middle school and high school have moved to some form of blended learning. Whether it be blogs, Moodle, Elgg, or Google Apps. What H1N1 will do is force the rest of the teachers to move there so we are prepared for the worst…not a bad thing!

The elementary school is always a bit harder, as students rely on more guidance when it comes to learning. Our teachers continue to adopt blogs as a communication device with parents and turning that into an educational learning communication to parents if they were at home with their students is not a far leap. Uploading worksheets, having discussions, and even giving advice to parents on how and what they should spend their time doing is a simple switch on the teachers part. The parents are already trained to look at the blogs for class information, teachers are getting better at understanding the software and uploading documentation, an open communication learning platform already in place.

We talk about needing a Sputnik type reason to change education. Internationally I’ve found mine! It might not be the best way to shift a school or teachers thinking around using online tools. But I’ll take it! In the case of SAS that simple step of installing Moodle lead to a shift in thinking, school culture, and their belief on what a blended classroom can do for both teaching and learning. It allowed new conversations, new ideas, and a new outlook on what was possible. So, as much as I hate to fear H1N1 I also see it as an opportunity to start new conversations and new ways of thinking about education.

I reach a point where I have so many things I want to share that I need to do a dump of information. So once in a while I’ll be sharing blogging bits. Little things that cross my mind, that I’m thinking about or have seen or have been apart of to share with the community.

I’m pretty proud of this….and at the same time it freaks me out. This book Wired for Learning: An Educators Guide to Web 2.0 was just released and I was fortunate enough to be asked to write a chapter for it. So chapter 19 Planning for 21st Century Technologies is written by me. Crazy to think that I’m actually published in a book. I’m not a writer, I’ve never claimed to be one and I continue to read this post that I wrote when this blog turned one…what an adventure this has all been.

I’m not a writer I’m a composer and I wonder if I’ll ever be a writer. But in the mean time I continue to compose. You the community helped to write the chapter over 5 separate blog posts and a PDF that you can download. The chapter of course is a little more thought out but know that this was written by you…and for that I thank you.

Carol Jordan, an IB Science teacher who I worked with in Shanghai, has once again finished a year of blogging with IB students. The student group blog Chemical Paradigms is an amazing piece of student learning. She ended the year with having students reflect on their year of learning and blogging by replying to this post. Take some time to read what the students had to say about there learning journy and please share this with other teachers. It’s powerful words coming from students. My favorite quote:

To blog is not to simply relay facts, nor is it to blab personal
gossip. A blog is not someone’s personal diary of critiques and
cynicisms. It is not an encyclopedia of intangible knowledge. A blog is
a no-loitering zone. Now that it is clear what a blog is not, I will
tell you what it is. A good blog is an interesting discussion of a
complex topic. It is on the continuum somewhere between fact and
opinion.

I couldn’t have explained blogging better myself.

I wrote about the student e-portfolios that our first graders were working on. Yesterday parents came in to watch as the students talked about their learning journey this year. It was great to watch parents ask questions about the pictures and have the first graders pause the slide show and then talk about what they were learning at that point in the school year. It worked great and each student will take home their movie on a CD.

There has already been a lot of conversations from teachers about using e-portfolios next year from all grade levels. I have to admit that I’m excited as we continue to create systems at our school that will allow both students and teachers to easily use the tools they need when they need them. As this year comes to a close I’m already getting excited for some of the projects that I’ll be a part of next year.

We change education, one year at a time.

A couple days ago I shared how the 1st grade here at ISB is creating Portfolio’s for students using iPhoto. They are simple Quicktime movies that kids can start and stop with their parents as they talk about their learning.

This is a great solution for teachers in primary grades who have a digital camera in their room with them to document learning throughout the school year.

But what about true E-Portfolios that students create and reflect upon themselves? Last year as Shanghai American School we started with a vision of every middle school student having a blog as a e-folio to reflect and share their learning with teachers, parents, and in the end…the world.

Of course I left and taking my place to carry on the vision is the one and only Amanda DeCardy. As a math teacher Amanda was one of the first middle school teachers to play with the idea and later on go 100% e-folio via the blogs last year. This year as one of the Educational Technology Integrationalist for SAS she has made that vision a reality with every 6th – 8th grader having a blog as their portfolio.

It’s an easy concept once you understand how blogs work. Create a category for each subject…students collect digital documents via, mp3, images, uploads, etc. throughout the year reflecting on there learning. When it comes time for the Student-Led Conferences (SLC) students can go back through their year’s reflections pick the ones they want to share with their parents and simple add it to the Student-Led Conference Category.

Without Daniel knowing it (I randomly clicked on a student blog) I’ve used his blog as an example. I’ve shown here how the categories look on his site. As a parent you can follow your child’s learning through the school year and know what you are going to be talking about at the SLC. Feel free to browse Daniel’s site (I’m sure he’d appreciate it) to get a feel for how this works. Use the categories as your navigation and take a tour of Daniel’s learning.

Thinking long turn this blog continues to grow each year. Daniel continues to add his thinking, his reflections, his documentation of learning. As his content grows he’s able to not only reflect on what he’s learning now, but go back in history on his own blog and link to that prior knowledge and thinking from years past.

Why a blog? It’s simple and in chronological order….right or wrong that’s how are schools are set up and over the years you would be able to see the growth of the student.

Why Public? I’ve had teachers talk to me about having students reflect in a public space. One which I think is even more powerful than a private space, but others feel students reflecting openly can be dangerous. I find it to be a very rewarding learning experience personally, that’s what blogging is and students seem to take to it (not all but most). It’s teaching how to reflect, how to be honest and understanding that part of the learning process is reflection. Is there risk? Sure…there always is when you publish something, but I feel the risk is minimal to the benefits students, and educators for that matter get in return. Anyone that blogs knows what I’m talking about.

Long term advantages:

By using a blog or a common open system and adopting it school wide really allows the power of this type of portfolio publishing to show. When Daniel is in 11th grade and he’s appling to univeristies think about the depth of knowledge he has to pull from. The link he can share with universities, and what universities can find out about Daniel. It will be 5 years before Daniel graduates and we do not know what universities will be looking for or what applications will look at at that time, but I can’t help but think that this kind of website of learning, or reflection won’t help Daniel in some way.

There’s a lot that must go into this and I know that Amanda has worked hard this year getting all teachers and students to a place that this just what happens at Shanghai American School. The amount of PD for teachers and the amount of training for students in understanding what this means I’m sure has taken much of her time this year. But in the end these students will be better for it and that’s what we’re all about!

Who is controlling your school’s online profile?

In my presentation to educators I usually say:

You need to take control of your online presence, because if you don’t…someone else will!

Do schools have someone looking after their online profile?

Do we need to create a new position in the communication office?

I just got done editing my school’s wikipedia entry where someone had put false information on the site. It was brought to my attention today by a teacher who was told by a student about the edits made to the article.

Funny enough as I’m writing this blog post I go back to the page to find more edits made that are false. I quickly go to the history page, see that the person editing the pages is logged in as user: shanghai12345, and quickly undo their edits again.

I’m loving this! They make an edit I click on the history, click undo, write a quick summary of my edit and click Revert. The real information comes back.

Schools need to understand where students go to get information about their school.

Schools need to understand that if you don’t control the school’s profile students will.

How is your school represented on Facebook?

How is your school represented on Wikipedia?

How can your school leverage these places as communication avenues?

How can your school leverage these social-networks for learning?

If someone at your school isn’t asking these questions…isn’t actively creating and managing your school’s online presence then the school is allowing students past/present/future to create it for them.

If school’s are not going to adopt and take these spaces seriously…then they will allow these social places to run the school’s image. Someday I have a feeling that will ruin a school, an administrator, or a teacher. We are only at the beginning of the use of these tools. Take control now or forfeit your online profile to others!

We all know what happens when you get administrators that understand this Web 2.0 stuff. Shift happens!

Gourmet Geeks Image Andy Torris a good friend of mine, fellow Gourmet Geek, and oh yeah Deputy Superintendent at our school has the wheels a spinning on what Web 2.0 can mean for a school community.

We had a great conversation starter today. What Andy and I really need is a day or two to talk through how this stuff will/can work….and we both believe it can.

“I know there is power in Twitter!” he says has he starts talking about the Twitter account he set up for our school.
We have some ideas on how our community can use Twitter to stay up on what is happening within the school. The school can use it to point to recent or updated information.


Think of the following as Twitter updates:

Practice for softball has been canceled today do to rain.

Don’t forget to vote in the board election this week.

Latest posting from principals can be found here.

Fund raiser this week for Habitat for Humanity remember to support our clubs!


As Andy and I continued talking today we both started talking about marketing and communication and how these tools could be very powerful for a private school such as ours in Shanghai. We also talked about Facebook and having more of a presence there.

“I’ve already created an account.” he says with a smile on his face.

Our conversation goes even deeper about how we need/can engage students at this level. We also talk about the new site I launched today for our school. A Netvibes Universe page that has all our feeds in one place. You can go to www.saschinaonline.org and you will be redirected to our Universe (check out my Universe via the new link at the top of my blog).

This type of site I think has some great power for larger school districts. Could you imagine being in a school district of 20 or 30 schools and have one site like this for the community that brings the district together?

I’ve been reading a lot about marketing lately and I think that’s part of all this. We need to market our schools to our students, our parents, our communities. How do we do that? What tools can we use?

If you’re not already following Andy I would add him to your list of reads. He’s an administrator who can see the larger picture and together we’re gonna figure out how a school can embrace these tools and use them in a multitude of ways to communicate and market our school to the community of Shanghai and expats that might be moving here.

Let me start this post with a disclaimer. There are a million ways to use blogs in education. The following is just one way we are using blogs at SAS.

As my time winds down here at SAS I find myself reflecting on the past three years and keep asking myself:

Did I leave a mark?

I think we all go through this and we all want this on some level. We want to know that our institution is better off because we were there. That somewhere we left a mark on a student, on the organization, or on fellow teachers. I think it’s a natural human feeling to reflect and hope that you have had a lasting positive effect at your workplace.

Last year I introduced blogging to SAS. A year later we have close to 700 student blogs/web sites and we’re closing in on 200 teacher blogs/websites. I say blogs/websites because I do believe the two are different and the way in which a user decides to use the space they have been given is up to them.

Last year we saw the blogs be “another thing” that we were doing at our school. This year thanks to some leaders in the classroom the blogs at certain grades have become just what we do.

Our middle school was been moving to a Student-Led Conference (SLC) format over the past two years. Personally I think it’s the only way to hold conferences with parents as it puts the student at the center of the learning process (what a concept). My last three years in the classroom I ran SLCs and at my last school in Saudi Arabia was head of a committee that saw us implement SLCs K-12 in our school (my lasting moment at that school).

Student-Led Conference are usually built around a portfolio created by the student. This year our 8th grade team with the help of Amanda DeCardy (8th Grade Math teacher, and next year a technology integrator for the school) set out to use the blogs as a place for student to produce, upload, and reflect on work in their classrooms. Essentially creating an e-portfolios.
Early in the year I sat down with the 8th grade team for about an hour and we discussed how students could organize their blogs using categories. 8th grade was a great year to start this project as the year before in 7th grade all of the students were exposed to blogging in their technology class which was taught by no other than…..me. 🙂

The students already had a fundamental understanding of blogging before the year began. The teachers then had the responsibility to help the students create an organizational structure on their blogs. One that would work for both class work and random reflections as well as for an e-portfolio. Each student with their advisory teacher (students have an advisory class that meets every other day in which the portfolios are created and maintained) set up an organization structure that worked for them and their blog.

This was the school’s first year using blogs as an e-portfolio platform but we also realized that not everything has to be done with technology so the Student-Led Conferences this year are a blended model of using both the blog as a way to reflect and a notebook portfolio.

Yesterday I talked with Amanda to see if we could get a student and their parents to let us record their Student-Led Conference to share with others both in and out of our school. For our school this will become a training video and at the same time allows us to share the great work our students are doing at our school.

If you have questions about the set up, the format or the use of Student-Led Conferences you can e-mail me or leave a comment below. Amanda is also willing to answer questions as well.

The one thing that I ask is that if you use this video at your school, or if you enjoy watching this very personal experience for a student that you PLEASE leave him a comment on his blog. He took a risk (dragging his family along with him). The least we can do is leave him a comment knowing the impact this video has had on you and your school.

Thank you Alexi and the Msays’ family for allowing us to share this with the world.

You can also download this video via iTunes on my On Deck podcast site.

My hope and vision for the blogs at SAS is this:

1.That they will be used as an e-portfolio platform for all students so that when a student leaves SAS whether in 9th grade to go to another school or when they graduate that they have a record of their learning that was shared with the world.

2.That teachers will continue to find innovative ways to use blogs for learning. E-Porfolios are just one aspect of the use of this very powerful and open platform. The ability to share knowledge with the world and receive feedback is a powerful learning journey.

3.That in two years time every student 5-12 has a school based blog that is part of their learning platform and is an embedded part of their schooling.

(A blog post I wrote to 11th graders and to myself)

Some interesting research has come out in the past couple of months that looks at the use of social networks and blogging and the trends that are happening in society today.

Nearly half of 18-24 year old social networkers (45%) told Future Laboratory researchers that if they had 15 minutes of spare time they would choose spend it on social networking sites rather than watching TV, reading, talking on their mobile, or playing video games. The impact of this trend is so significant that a quarter (25%) of respondents state that the rise in social networks has decreased the amount of traditional television they consume.

Social NetworksI continue to look at trends in our society and find myself among those that have decreased my TV time in favor of the social network. I continue to ask myself why is it that social networks are where I want to be and where I do most of my learning.

What I have noticed personally is a change within myself from a consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge. Watching TV does not allow me to interact with knowledge, allow me to leave a comment, remix it into my own words, or interact with the author in a true and meaningful way.

Social Networks, and the social web (also known as Web 2.0) allows me to not only consume but easily produce knowledge of my own. It is this interaction with knowledge that leads to new understandings and pushes me to think.

Because I am connected to the social web I am then allowed to create new knowledge based on my new understandings. Does that make sense?

What really interests me is that we use to believe that those who spent all their time connected to a computer where lonely, disconnected, and had no life. Yet new research is pointing to the exactly opposite.

The research, from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, found after two months of regular blogging, people felt they had better social support and friendship networks than those who did not blog.

Social Networks2Those who are connected in social networks already know this, it’s just great to see research back it up. I have very few friends here in Shanghai, but I have support and friendship networks that are very live and personal to me. My wife gets frustrated when we are sitting on the couch at night and I have Skype calls from my friends around the world. She picks up the phone to connect to people, I pick up my computer. I use twitter, Skype, Facebook, and my blog as my communication tools. That’s how I keep up with my friends. I read their Facebook, I read their blogs, I talk/IM them on Skype. I am constantly reading, commenting, writing, learning. Why is it that I hated learning in school and now go home at the end of a long day and look forward to reading and learning from my social network?

Interacting with people in the social web allows us to not only consume information but produce it. This is new to education as we were all raised to be consumers. We sit in class, we listen, we do our assignments, turn them in and move on. We consume, show that we consumed and that’s it. We never were asked to produce, to think deeply about what we were learning and we never had the opportunity to share what we thought (as scary as it is) with our social network and allow them to comment or think deeply about what we ourselves are trying to learn and understand.

Social Networks3In the social web each of us becomes a node of information. We are allowed to connect to friends, people, sites, information. We are allowed to consume, produce, share, learn, recreate, remix, and be as large or as small a node as we want. Education in the 21st Century is not about consuming information (it changes to fast), it’s about creating new knowledge from what we know, what we think, and what we are passionate about.

Knowledge is power! We create it through interacting with information not consuming it! Get social, become a node, and start producing new knowledge.

[tags]sas, 21st Century Learning, tok[/tags]

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I share with you and e-mail I sent out to the staff at my school today. Yes, I know that most of what I write would not fly in your school/district. But then again, we are a private international school…things just work differently here, and that’s a good thing! I strongly believe that international education will change and adapt faster than any public system. What slows us down is the larger educational system (colleges, SAT, IB, AP, etc).But I do believe we are the front runners for change because at times we’re allowed to out run ourselves.

Question: What is the school’s policy on using student names and pictures on the Internet?

Out of CTRL

Answer:
A question that has been coming up more and more as we put more and more information online is what is the school’s policy. I will do my best to keep this short.

The school does not have a policy at this time about what and how we handle student information on the web. The “unwritten rule” use to be that we did not put students names with pictures on the web. Last year the communication department started putting Parent Talk online in the form of a PDF and Google at the same time release an update that allowed it to search PDF documents. So at the highest levels within SAS we have been discussing this very issue. Where do we draw the line?

As more and more research comes out on just how NOT dangerous the Internet is we’ll have to look at how we protect our students.

New York Times: How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?

APA: Internet Predator Stereotypes Debunked in New Study
For example, in spite of public concern, the authors found that adolescents’ use of popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook do not appear to increase their risk of being victimized by online predators. Rather, it is risky online interactions such as talking online about sex to unknown people that increases vulnerability, according to the researchers.

What we do know is that there are a couple little things we can do that will keep students safe and at the same time allow them to be acknowledged on the Internet (which is what they want, what they demand in their digital world).

1. Do not post personal information
Students and teachers should not post personal information on the Internet. Street address, Passport (SSN#) Number or information, phone number, cell number, date of birth (although this is tough as many websites require you put your birth date in. a.k.a. facebook).

2. Do not use last names
Using just first names allows students to be recognized for their work but still allows them to remain some what protected. If we expect students to site information they find on the Internet for validation purposes then we must also allow them to be sited on information they create/produce. Using a students first name allows the student to have a sense of ownership for their work. They might not put their name on a paper, but you better believe they’ll put it on the Internet so others know who they are.

3. Pictures with permission
There is a form in the student/parent handbook at the beginning of the year that allows parents to opt out of the school using student pictures and work on the Internet. We use an opt out form giving us inherent rights to use pictures and work in both online and traditional publications. Most schools use opt out forms and find that very few parents sign and return the form (even less Internationally…grandparents love seeing their grand kids!)

How do you know if you have students with this form? You don’t…at the moment. This is a communication piece that we are working on for next year and that the Communication and Marketing department will be organizing for distribution next year. In the mean time we suggest that you ask students if it’s OK to take their picture. Once again modeling what we want to teach our students that having permission before hand can save you time and heartache (or your job and friendships).

New Acceptable Use Policy
This year we have been working on a new Acceptable Use Policy that will go into affect next year. At this time a select group of 11th graders are helping me to revise and talk about the new AUP. We want to make sure we have student buy in and next year’s 12th graders will be our leaders in helping us all understand how this new network is affecting communication on a global level.

I hope this helps clarify any questions you might have had on the topic. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to stop by my office, send me an e-mail, or grab me in the hallway for a chat. It’s a new wired world out there and we’re feeling our way through it together.

Cheers,

Jeff Utecht

[tags]sas, cyber safety[/tags]

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Yes we have over 600 student blogs running here in Shanghai. From grades 4-12, students are blogging up a storm. In fact we’re getting to a point that the blogs are part of just what students do here.

Today this e-mail was sent out to all staff from a student (shared here with permission…and excitement).

To whom it may concern,

My name is Caitlin and I am a 8th grader. Recently we have been
working on a project about global issues in my Humanities class.

My group decided to focus on school violence. One of the actions we are
taking in order to lower school violence is a blog. A blog made for teens to
vent and if needed contact us about their problems. This will hopefully get to
teens before they result to violence or catch the violence before it get
serious. We would greatly appreciate if you wouldn’t mind forwarding this email
to anyone who can help, post something about our blog
http://blogs.saschinaonline.org/mixedemotions
and linking our blog on your blog or any other website, inform teenagers
about our blog, and finally (if possible) check out our blog yourself and leave
a commit.

Thank you so much,
Caitlin

How cool is this! That the students are starting their own blogs for projects, are using them for learning, for communicating, for collaborating, and for helping others. They are starting to understand what it means to have an authentic audience. I mean, they’ve always understood it. Just now I think they’re seeing the power in the network, the power in learning and communicating in a place that is open and familiar to them for educational purposes.

What I love is that the first thing any student does when they start a new blog is activate the FireStats plugin so they can see how many people are viewing their site. They usually then go to clustermaps or somewhere else on the web and get themselves a map of where people are coming from.

An audience is important to them. It is important to know that someone
else is reading your thoughts, maybe even leaving a comment. They want,
and at this point, crave that authentic audience.

They are also understanding the importance of linking. The e-mail is asking teachers to link to their blog so others can find them. That right there is understanding the power of networks.

When sharing, communicating, and collaborating becomes open….learning happens!

[tags]21st Century Learning, SAS[/tags]

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