I don't think blocking networked learning in our schools is an option. #ut-tcc

Today I heard far too many IT Directors from within our state brag about how locked down their school networks are. What follows is a portion of my response:

Because there is so much learning occuring outside our schools with networked technologies, what can we - as institutions of learning - offer students when we choose to block the avenues for learning with which they're already so familiar? A "better" way to learn? A "more significant and accurate" manner in which their learning is assessed? A first-hand view of the same educational experiece their parents once shared?


I think many of our youth would quickly agree that most of the so- called "better approaches to learning" that don't involve technology feel frustratingly similar to trading today's jet airliner for their (great great) grandfather's horse and buggy. Sure, it's great to experience the feel and smell of the horse, but not when you've seriously got somewhere to fly!

Ironically, if we don't learn to incorporate social networking technologies better into our schools' instructional processes, the only eventual use most of our students will have for school is the venue our campuses can provide to build the personal (and very much networked) connections that can be forged through meeting with peers in the same geographic location. Athletics, extra curricular activities, and special programs will become the central curriculum in any school that doesn't leverage social technologies because core skills can be more quickly and conveniently learned elsewhere.

For these and other reasons, I don't think blocking networked learning in our schools is a viable option.


Cross posted at Thinking Out Loud... Let's learn together.

Dissertation Topic Change(?): The Creation of the Canyons School District

Several months later, and I'm ready to shift dissertation gears back in to high, but have felt - for some time now - that a change in topic is most likely imminent.

It's not that I've lost interest in the the topic of open professional development, but rather that because the creation of a new school district doesn't happen every day, I feel strongly compelled to evaluate what has taken place as we've experienced the birth of the Canyons School District. The ride has been wild, affected a large number of people, and remains a highly charged, politically vibrant, emotionally taxing controversy to this day.

Over the last few days, I've been able to scratch out an outline for what I hope will actually work; and I'd love to hear what you think:

  • Is this dissertation do-able?
  • Does the study have merit?
  • Is the study too large/small/fast/slow for a dissertation?
  • How would you recommend that I control for bias?
Thanks, in advance, for any feedback you'd be willing to give (open document here).

Quick hat tips to Jon Becker and Hollie Petterson, for always seeming so willing to answer my stupid grad-student-type questions. :)

What is the purpose of attending conferences?

And can that purpose be realized in other - perhaps better - ways?

Image source: Flickr user Ben Shepherd.

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