Moving beyond electronic worksheets
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
Many organizational web sites are simply online brochures: static entities with a few pages of information. They’re not interactive. They’re not updated. Once you’ve read the text and seen the images, there’s rarely a reason to come back later. This is particularly true for web pages made by individuals, small businesses, and, unfortunately, schools.
Institutions like universities and larger corporations seem to do a better job of updating their Web content and making their sites more interactive, thus increasing the likelihood of visitors returning later. The reason they can do this, of course, is that they have more money, training, and other resources at their disposal. A small business owner (or a teacher or secretary who’s the school webmaster) who knows little about web design but knows that she needs a web site may be hard pressed to do more than simply upload a few basic pages.
Similarly, a teacher that’s being asked to integrate technology into her lesson may be challenged to go beyond very basic implementation. She might have access to Google Docs, for example, but she simply has her students use the service to download a pre-designed document, fill in the open spaces, and either print it off or upload it back to the class Moodle site. She might have a class blog, for example, but her students use it simply to upload their typed text instead of handing in their written text on notebook paper. In other words, she doesn’t know how to go beyond this ‘electronic worksheet’ model and take advantage of the affordances of the new technologies. She’s basically replicating previous practices - only with more technological bells and whistles - instead of doing something differently because the technologies now allow her and her students to do so.
The challenge for school leaders, then, is to move their teachers beyond what Bernajean Porter calls ‘adapting uses’ and into ‘transforming uses.’ Another challenge, of course, is that school leaders may not be very technology-savvy themselves and thus don’t really know how to help their teaching staffs move in this direction.
What successes have you had in helping school administrators understand this issue? What techniques and strategies have you implemented that help principals and superintendents assist their classroom educators in moving beyond ‘electronic worksheets?
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Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive
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- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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- Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
- The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
- Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
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