Saturday, April 07, 2007

Accountability and Ability Rather Than Distrust and Disability

Accountability and Ability Rather Than Distrust and Disability

Over the course of the year I have been doing more and more with technology. As a result, my students are doing more and more with technology. The whole premise of us doing more with technology is a direct result of Alabama Best Practices Center’s 21st Century learning initiative. I have learned a great deal from visiting their sites and by taking part in Illuminate sessions after school. Nevertheless, I have to ask where accountability and ability end and where distrust and disability begin.

Sounds confusing I know, but if you are a K12 educator that uses School 2.0 technologies, you probably know what I’m talking about. About the time educators start using certain technologies they get blocked. Now this doesn’t always happen in my system, but it could. Currently, we block social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo. Also, we block YouTube and Ebay. And of course, we do our best to block any site that is inherently inappropriate for students. Makes sense!

Nevertheless, from a leadership perspective, I believe that we have to start doing less blocking and more instructing. When students are out of line, they know that they are out of line and have to be accountable. I’m sure that all of us have been directed to sites that were inappropriate at some time in our lives, but I hope that most of us were accountable. I remember looking for something in Spanish a few years back and getting directed to an inappropriate site. I exited the site before it even finished loading. By exiting the site I was accountable.

Unfortunately, students often venture into sites that are inappropriate and fail to exit the site. If a system says that students can’t use YouTube and take the time to post signs and make announcements, then students shouldn’t be caught on YouTube, specifically 4-12 students. Students at this age are old enough to be accountable for following school rules and YouTube is clearly marked. No excuses!

However, when dealing with banned sites there may be some exceptions. With YouTube and other type services, individual bloggers can embed video from YouTube into their blogs. For example, Will Richardson at Weblogg-ed has a wonderful video by Karl Fisch “Did You Know?” embedded into one of his post (i.e. The same video I added from TeacherTube yesterday). In actuality the video is not on Will’s site, but is being feed from YouTube. This is where accountability becomes questionable. In such cases, students should ask their teacher if the video is appropriate for school use. Problem solved!

It’s basically like my oldest daughter taking a video to Kindergarten, she would submit the video for the teacher’s approval and then they would watch it. I actually remember her coming home one day disappointed because her teacher told her that they couldn’t watch one of her videos. Upon questioning her, I looked at the rating of the video and it was PG. In Kindergarten, at her school they only allow G rated movies. The movie was the “Neverending Story.” It’s a great movie, but it could also scare some young children. Kudos for her teacher! The Internet should be treated the same way.

We have to teach our students accountability.

Vickie Davis has a great post about the “filter gods” and I played off her post’s title for this post. Replace distrust and disability with accountability and ability! I like what Vickie says about School 2.0…

“So, what should School 2.0 include?

It should include accountability and ability!

Ability to unblock things and accountability for what is done in the classroom.

Right now I see a lot of distrust and disability.”

If we are to truly move forward with School 2.0 we have to teach our students accountability and ability rather than distrust and disability. Think about it! What are we teaching our students and are we creating ability or disability? You decide!

William Bishop (Bill)

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