Given the prevalence of cloud-based computing systems, alternative Internet access technologies (e.g. Clear, MiFi on your Mobile device, etc.) to what the school district provides, some may argue that school technology directors are a rapidly dying breed. They are a dying breed because their focus is on controlling what is happening in schools when students and educators simply tap into ubiquitous technologies that bypass the roadblocks…in fact, human beings in their desire to connect with each other transcend the blocks, speed bumps, and obstacles that have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in place.

At The Thinking Stick, Jeff shares a change in how students communicate:

Over this past school year my wife and I have slowly been watching a change in the way her Middle School students communicate with her. It has me thinking that we no longer get to decide the communication tool for a conversation.
It started back in September when my wife received an e-mail from Facebook via a student. My wife is not friends with any students on Facebook but that didn’t and hasn’t stopped them from sending her messages about school. The first time it happened we laughed and my wife was a bit freaked out. But over the course of the year it’s been happenings more and more. Kids, who are always on Facebook, and using it like e-mail decided it was OK to contact their school counselor that way…and is it?
A counselors role is to be available to their students in time of need and crisis. Do we really care how they contact their counselor? What program or method they use?

The question that we must ask is, “Are we really fed up with the restrictions that are meant to keep children safe that we choose to detour around them, or are we fed up with trying to model the appropriate use of technology to our students?” What a poor question. Let me try again. “Have we given up modeling the appropriate use of technology in schools because technology directors are the only ones who define appropriate as restricting access to online content?

To be honest, I’d like to think that we could all be connecting through the multitude of social networking tools provided by third party vendors. It would be nice for the mountain to come to us, rather than us having to go to the mountain.
Maybe, it’s time technology directors changed with the times? Maybe…they need to become more enchanting a la Guy Kawasaki (infographic)? Though I’m not a graphic artist, here’s what a tech directors a la enchantment might look like:
How to Achieve Likability:
  • Stop wearing t-shirts with a collar imprinted with school district TechDept logo and just go with the District logo.
  • Answer “Yes” when asked if they can integrate any system into the District’s network
How to Achieve Trustworthiness
  • Trust others, especially teachers
  • Start with the interests of teachers and students rather than ensuring the network security and helpdesk comfort
  • Share stories of network success–users getting it done–rather than users failing badly (e.g. Facebook mishap)
How to Prepare
  • Involve stakeholders
  • Avoid making unilateral decisions that benefit only Technology
  • Keep it short, simple, and empowering
  • Open the door (to borrow Wes Fryer’s insistence)
How To Launch
  • Show how this will benefit the end-user rather than ensure network integrity
  • Tell a story of how students will get things done
Well, you get the idea. Wouldn’t it be neat if we all sat in a circle and read this together?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure