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Whose risk? Whose benefit? TTT43 03.07.07

The inquiry continues. Tech Liaisons from 3 different Writing Projects, Lynne Culp, Troy Hicks, and Eric Hoefler joined Paul, Lee, and Susan to discuss another hurdle that teachers face when they try this thing called blogging with their students. This journey starts with Lynne’s questions about how to get an easy, reliable, free blogging service for her colleagues in the UCLA Writing Project and in her school. She has been using Edublogs.

Lynne’s questions led us to a couple of interesting lines of inquiry on last week’s webcast when Paul Oh, Christina Cantrill, Bud Hunt, Gail Desler, and Pat Dalaney joined us. There were a couple of different sets of questions that were central to our conversation last week.

One line of inquiry has questions like these:

  • How can teachers find secure and scalable hosting?
  • What blogging (and other) software are teachers finding to meet their needs?
  • How can teachers navigate complex relationships with technology visionaries, funders, and software developers?

A second line of inquiry begins with questions like these:

  • What are our curricular reasons for using technology?
  • Where does technology fit in the school day?
  • How do teachers re-purpose technology to match their curricular goals?
  • What literacy skills are important now because of technology?

In this week’s webcast with our guests Lynne, Troy, and Eric a third line of inquiry became central. We spent most of our time talking about Instructional Technology (IT) departments, filters, and district-level decisions:

  • Who are the people making the decisions to block sites or certain types of Internet material? What are their names and phone numbers?
  • How can we build relationships with the IT people in our districts, and get them to trust teachers to keep specific domains open and tools available in our schools?
  • What role might unions and professional organizations, as well as networks like WorldBridges and Writing Projects play in supporting teachers in getting access to the Internet resources? And what about Google? Will they talk to IT departments?
  • How can teachers become part of the IT conversations in their districts, and help IT people do more careful risk-benefit analyses? How do we balance the risk to computer systems and to students with the benefit to classrooms and learning?
  • Should teachers “fight the filters” individually and quietly, or in united, public ways?

These are just some of the questions we’ve been asking recently.