While I attended the NYSCATE Leadership Summit last week for a variety of reasons, the main motivation was to hear the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) presentation on their proposed state technology plan. Beyond the presentation there were roundtable discussions to provide input and feedback followed by an opportunity to ask questions.
When the opportunity to ask questions arrived, I raised my hand. I told the them that I hadn’t heard about the proposed tech plan through regular channels, rather through Twitter. Then came the question: Would they consider setting up an account and using Twitter?
The answer: We’ll have to check with our counsel.
Let’s juxtapose this with Goal Two of the Statewide Technology Plan:
Learners, teachers, and administrators are proficient in the use of technology for learning.
Proficiency is defined, in large measure, by standards for desired levels of skills, knowledge and performance. Proficiency encompasses such areas as social networks and internet safety.
Apparently, while NYSED wants students, teachers, and administrators to use social networks, they fear doing so themselves. They seem flummoxed by the same issues that technology pioneering districts and practitioners have been wrestling with for years. The message is that NYSED regards the very activities in which they wish us to engage as legally questionable.
Educators know that good leadership involves modeling the desired behaviors. NYSED knows that and should do the same. Using social networking tools shows that they understand them. They could model what they regard as best practices.
To succeed NYSED needs to help cut through the systemic fear and uncertainty that runs from practitioner to district to BOCES and beyond. Hesitation is the enemy of change and innovation. We need some degree of guidance in what are acceptable practices.
Twitter is a simple tool. It’s a good place to start. The US Department of Education, Centers for Disease Control, and President Obama tweet. NYSED needs to tweet too.
I plan on a number of posts on aspects of the NYS Tech Plan soon. I’m eager to hear comments.