Random Thoughts

Firewall vs Adminwall

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On my posting the other day about our school setting up a YouTube account Jeff Dungan left the following comment:

…any tips you can give me to take to my administration/board since they are not receptive to the idea of allowing this to be unblocked/used at our school? Anything that you can offer in terms of support for our argument why we should be able to access it aside from the obvious would be fantastic.

Getting through the Adminwall is a lot harder then through a firewall, but not impossible. How do you get Admin to buy in, to recognize the opportunity these tools hold for learning. I’m not sure, but here’s the approach that has worked for me time and time again.

1. Work your #*& off
2. Praise loudly and reprimand quietly
3. Fill their e-mail box with examples educational or funny of things you find on YouTube

I knew I had them when our V.P. invited me into his office one day as I was walking by to show me a video he found tear jerking funny. His buddy had sent him the link and he was crying laughing at the video. At that moment I knew I had them hooked.

There really is no secret here. Everyday I tell teachers who I’m helping that my job is to work myself out of a job and that’s exactly how I feel. I can not wait for the day that education does not need a technology specialist in the building because technology just is. Until then I have a job, but I strive to help teachers learn new skills, fix their own computers and think outside the box (said that 10 times today) when it comes to teaching.

I’ve had some teachers say to me that I work to hard and their is no way they would ever stay up to 1am making sure a podcast was posted, or up until 2am upgrading the Moodle site. That I think is the difference. The administration knows how hard I work for them and our students, and the passion I have for technology and the amazing things it can do comes through in every conversation I have. Some people call it tooting their own horn, I call it letting people know how much I believe these tools can will are changing education. Yes I’m insane, I love this stuff and I work way to hard to do it, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every time a teacher does something with technology I send e-mails like they won a gold metal. Admin gets e-mails, teaching partners get e-mails, and other teachers who I think might benefit from the e-mail. I alway include my thoughts, my kudos, and how this truly impacts learning in the e-mail. The more you can play it up the more others want to be in the e-mail, want their name mentioned and see how hard you are willing to work to help them ‘get it’.

From the start of this year every time someone put a video on YouTube that was educational and got pasted around the blogosphere I made sure it made it into the admin’s e-mail box talking about the impact of this social-network. First semester I uploaded the student made digital stories to my personal account (without admin permission) and waited for there to be something to share. The first was the history of IBM video where someone who works at IBM commented on the student’s video. Then the history of Firefox video which has been viewed over 3,000 times. Again I sold it to the admin, I shared with them the K12 group set up on YouTube and encouraged them to browse some of the great videos there.

So this semester when the timing was right I walked into their office and said “I’m going to set up a YouTube account for our school.” To which they replied “OK”.

I will say that I do have some amazing administrators. Andy Torris my current principal and I have had many conversations around these tools and how they can be used in school. We’ve worked together now for 5 years so we’ve built that trust that if I say something will work, I get more OKs then ‘whys’ and ‘what about…’. It’s a trust issue. Once you have their trust then you can have the tools. I’m lucky, I know, from my principal clear up to my Superintendent. They (I think) trust me and know that at the root of who I am, I am an educator and have the best intentions of our students in mind. I’m not perfect by any means, and have ran into my fair share of Adminwalls, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing. Seriously, there are times I send e-mails wondering if I’m going to be sent a pink slip. We’ve got to keep pushing, keep expanding educators horizons and not settle for where we are…the world is changing too fast for that.

[tags]youtube, 21st Century Learning, adminwall[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. I learned a hack that works for some Google products (& Bloglines, too), but, alas, I don’t think it works for YouTube, at least yet: try https://. I’m able to access Google mail & other sites @ work which are blocked…

    Of course, when the sysadmin figure out what I’m doing…

  2. again i think you are bang on. Jeff Dungan, myself and the entire CMS technology team are working tirelessly to develop the trust you speak to; its coming. I see the role of CMS tech facilitators as motivators who continue to push our collegues to the possibilities of technology. We need to continue to push, sometimes hard, confident in the product we are selling.
    We are winning over teachers in all sections of the school and i agree one hundred percent that getting the good news out is what we need to do. We publish everything we can in student showrooms, and i really do feel the wind beginning to shift.
    Like Jeff U. and Justin I believe vehemently that the best thing for education is for me to become unemployed; when my position becomes obsolete and technology is inherently integrated in everything done then i can return to my true calling…

  3. This post, a recent Washington Post article, and Medagogy’s latest post got me thinking (ranting?) about how incredibly great our responsibility is to ensure that students are not only safe users, but also responsible ones. In getting my head around it, I got pretty longwinded on my blog.

    One of the hard parts that you run into with the Adminwall is the fear of the bad stuff that happens. Much to many schools’ chagrin, this bad stuff, prevents them from using the tools that have such great educational benefit.
    What Adminwalls are missing is that these tools NEED to be available to students and schools so that we can help ensure that responsible use is the norm and not misuse. Skills can be learned by the kids without us, but the implications and the ethics of use require conversations and discussion and education…sounds like a school to me. More on this on my blog.

  4. As a classroom teacher I have been comtemplating and creating a list of the top ten tips to engage teachers in integrating technology into their classes. You hit on a critical strategy. Kudos! It’s not bragging, it’s spreading your enthusiasm, and honoring and celebrating the success of your teachers. Their enthusiam will help make the message spread expotentially. Engaging adminstrators is on the top of my tips list.

  5. Bravo! The ITF’s in my county have recently had this exact conversation. We, as a group, are split. Some of us (guess which one I am?) want to experiment and lessen the reigns and some are steadfast in not trying. It upsets me to think that there are so many wonderful tools that our students are not being allowed to access. We MUST teach our students the difference between appropriate and inappropriate websites. If we don’t, then that is exactly where they’ll go as soon as no one is looking.

    I liked your idea of setting up a school youtube account. I am very interested. Would you please email me and let me know who you did that? Will any video that I save to our school account play as long as we access through the school account?

    I truly enjoy reading your blog and often visit repeatedly to read a blog I’ve already read. You are an inspiration!


  6. May I suggest looking at the following site when talking with your administration? It’s a much better example of what YouTube can do for education without all of the other videos that come along with YouTube.


    Who knows, this may answer your questions and negate the need for YouTube.

    Love to hear how your attempts to cross the adminwall come out.

    Sean Martinson

  7. Pingback: Our Imperative to teach Safe, Responsible Social Networking » Thinking Allowed.

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