Here’s the difficult task facing educators today, whether you’re working in a classroom and media center or in a building or a district administrative office: You’ve got to move your classroom’s, school’s, or district’s students toward the mastery of curriculum standards, often as measured by their performances on high-stakes tests. But as you do so, you must embrace relevant tools, techniques, and … what shall we call them … ways of learning and working that are rapidly evolving and that are coming on the education scene at an ever-accelerating pace. Note a key word in the previous sentence: relevant. As you run as fast as you can to accomplish your educational mission, knowing what is also efficacious and relevant among all that’s new is in itself a difficult task.
For this issue of Multimedia & Internet@Schools, we’ve lined up stories that deliver ideas, advice, and resources on … if not all then a lot that’s new. If you and your educator colleagues are wrestling with perplexing issues such as how to address the social media and virtual-learning phenomena in your districts or whether to move into online or virtual schooling, then read on.
In our cover story, Social Media in the Classroom—For Kindergartners (!) Through High Schoolers (p. 8), Renee Ramig discusses the benefits of using social media for kids who are as young as primary age right on to secondary students. As she writes: "Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, MySpace, Ning: How do we help our students learn the social skills needed to understand what it really means to live and participate in a global community? How do we incorporate this into our schools and classrooms? [And, of course] How do we keep ourselves and our students safe?"
And in the same vein, co-writers Sonja Plummer-Morgan and Lisa Neal-Shaw make a case for embracing virtual worlds for kids as a valid educational activity in their feature Virtual Worlds for Kids—Good Fun, Good Educational Value (p. 12).
The educational efficacy, not to mention the cost savings, of state-of-the-art K–12 online learning initiatives and resources are the subject of Rajeev Arora’s feature, The K–12 Online Evolution: 21st-Century Solutions for 21st-Century Learning (p. 16).
Among the columns this month, Mary Ann Bell’s entertaining Belltones offering addresses the "rapidly evolving" and "running as fast as you can to do your job" issues. Help is on the way via her This I Know Is True piece (p. 39). Follow this with a read of Stephen Abram’s column (p. 20) in which he completes his two-part series of musings on what’s in the technology tools pipeline, and we hope we’ll have helped you with the difficult tasks at hand.
David Hoffman , editor