Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to do something but your parents said "NO"? You probably played the "everybody else" card, pleading in your best whiny voice, "But all the other kids are doing it!" Of course your parents did not immediately give in, but the truth is that to some extent that argument actually works. When my only child was growing up, it did indeed sway me a bit to know that other parents I knew and respected allowed their kids to attend a certain event or do something else that I was wavering about. After all, I wanted to be fair and allow my daughter the same privileges other reasonable folks were giving their kids.
I think the same is true for school and district administrators. I suspect many of you have known a principal or teacher friend who came home from a conference or workshop all fired up about something exciting that was catching on elsewhere. A prime example that comes to my mind is the interactive whiteboard. When I wrote my dissertation about the boards in 2000, they were a rarity. My review of literature was both easy and difficult because very little had been written about them. Just a short time later they became the must-have device for schools that wanted to move forward with technology. Now they are commonplace.
Next it was clickers, or hand-held devices, and so on. I believe that the same bandwagon mentality is happening with Web 2.0 access. Teachers and administrators are getting on board with interactive, collaborative educational web resources at least partly because others are proclaiming their successes. In my previous column I protested loudly, "I’m Mad and I Am Not Gonna Take It Any More!" regarding overly restrictive internet filters. In this and the next couple of columns, I hope to share some tactics for gaining access, starting here with the bandwagon ploy.
A Long Road Ahead
My hope is that this column can offer some examples that could be used to help build cases supporting increased web access in schools and districts that are still dealing with very restrictive filters. Decision makers need to know that many educators are moving ahead with Web 2.0 sites. Last spring I conducted an online survey asking school librarians and technology teachers about their internet access at school. I was surprised at the number of participants who responded and the vehemence of comments made by many people working under very narrow filtering constraints. As of March 2008, I learned that nearly half of 600 respondents could not even read blogs from school. Of course the number who could create or participate in them was even more discouraging, with about 60% denied this access. Clearly we have a long way to go before educators and students can benefit from interactive online resources.
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