Fighting the fear factor

Today has been an interesting day for me. I was invited to attend and contribute to an ICT Steering Group in the local authority where I work.

I have been complaining to whoever would listen for a long time that I do not see the sorts of things happening in schools that I have seen on video or read about on blogs. I have learnt so  much about the great things that are happening at schools all around the world that have embraced the potential of technology to allow children to learn and most importantly to gain essential skills that they will need for their future.

I started the day by following a Tweet from John Carver the Superintendent of The Van Meter Schools in Iowa, where I have developed a fruitful connection online discussing their wonderful 1:1 Laptop methods and their work in exploring virtual reality for their students. This was the Tweet:

johnccarver

@malcolmbellamy RT @shannonmmiller: More Than Just a Class…It’s a Revolution! By #vanmeterbpchs student @kKiiTtYy0x http://ow.ly/2M3MG

This was a post from a student Reanne Maskert who is  a part of a wonderful new venture which has linked a PLN class from Van Meter Iowa with a class in the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill, Pa. The students have linked up using social media and the communications capability that programs such as Skype presents schools with. See http://thestudentplnconnect.blogspot.com/2010/09/start-of-something-greatconnecting.html

I find this venture really exciting and felt the need to make a comment on Reanne’s post which I found inspiring and so well written (proving the learning potential of blogging in schools and the motivation to write to communicate as can be seen in this instance).

I then travelled to the meeting of the Steering Committee and was so pleased to see that the real potential of ICT was at least being acknowledged. We all accepted that our schools need to move forward. I spoke about the opening up of our schools to social media. THere was sharp intake of breath and then we all discussed the need to underpin everything by a concentration on internet safety.

It was pointed out that Ofsted had recently come out with a report that stated that the best schools that they had seen in terms of ICT use were schools where social media and mobile technology had been embraced and the dangers of misuse and misinformation were tackled and pointed out by everyone.

I feel that we are still fearful of the dangers that social media can present… but we need to understand that we cannot ignore it… and that it also presents us with great opportunities for learning and communication that far outweigh the dangers.

I cam home to a Tweet that had a link to an article in Mashable (an excellent website that I always try and follow). The article was called “The Case For Social Media In Schools” I feel that this is an excellent article that argues the case for allowing web 2.0 into schools.

We must fight the fear factor if we are to move forward. I was pleased by the meeting I attended because there were some very wise and able people who had a good understanding of ICT and how much it can contribute to our children’s learning in the town where I work. But the fear factor was there and we may go too slowly and hesitantly because of it. At least we have made a start and hopefully there will be some changes for me to report in the next few months.

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