I am proposing a workshop for my district to explore and discuss Web 2.0 and it's educational possibilities. One of the things that I put in my proposal is to have someone from the district IT Dept. attend. I want this for a few reasons:
1) to be able to allow websites that the internet filters block (usually anything to do with shareware, opensource downloads like Firefox, social networking like this very site) and to allow for software downloads (we are on ActiveDirectory, ugh!)
2) to show the IT Dept. all of the possibilities for teachers to use the internet and to try to break through this whole "moat around the castle" fear response.
I got a response today, and it is a mixed bag. They like the idea, but now they want to check with our Google contact about how to access these things safely. Now, you need a little background here: we are a small town in a former furniture industry town in the south. Google is currently building a server farm here, which will be a boon to the economy. With that being said, I feel like their reaction to check with their Google contact is like calling a Honda executive to ask how to change a flat tire.
My question to you all is: How can you get past all of the fear that seems to be wrapped up with accessing the internet? How would you explain the benefit to risk ratio? My current solution is to procure my own computers and do with them as I please, but it seems like someone would want to listen to how we are squandering such a fantastic resource...
Show and tell..For me it always comes back to telling the story. the basic questions ..what does it mean to be literate today, what job skills are necessary for the market place our students will enter, what tools do they need to become productive informed citizens.....
As for the google connection us it as a positive. Google supports education...can you make your own contact?I noticed you are in NC maybe a google certified teacher from NY would be willing to come down and co-present with you.
Just some thoughts....
I've gotta go with Barbara "show and tell" response. Last fall my principal was pushing us all to use a certain gradebook program that I didn't like and I thought would cost the school a lot of money. I found an online gradebook site (www.engrade.com. Try it, you'll like it) that did the same thing and gave the parents and students access to their current marks and overall grade-to-date. I showed the principal what I was doing and explained why. I tried to tell him honestly the pros and cons. The result is that it's highly likely come September he'll be pushing the staff to use this particular website as their gradebook program.
Success breeds success. Being able to show where you've down something neat, or interesting, or useful, or just plain better than before encourages other people to follow suit and usually gives you licence to do even cooler, more interesting, and more useful things.
Oh! Your Honda exec/flat tire analogy made me laugh out loud!
Seems like your IT people aren't getting the memo that their job is to enable educational opportunities. You need someone at the top on your side, so that IT is hearing it as their job requirement. Until that happens, even if you are the most persuasive guy in the world, your IT folks will just hear what you say, nod and smile about how it's the 21st century and all, and go right back to what they were doing before.
Next, what if you instincts are right about digging your own moat and doing as you please?
Consider this -- What if you don't connect your computers to the Internet? What if your kids were making movies, designing their own games, and creating great art? The Internet is only part of the story, and in fact, tends to push information-centric uses of computers. At the very least this could be your "Plan B". While you are busy convincing adults that indeed pedophiles will not pop out of the computers, and that Google may actually like their local schools to be using their tools, the kids will be able to do constructive things NOW and SHOW their parents and the community that technology has a place in their classrooms.