We are living in what some folks call “exponential times.” Change and information distribution are occurring at an amazing and ever increasing speed—except in schools, of course.
Since I started as a teacher, I have been interested in technology. Way back in 1984, my tool of choice was one of those green-screen Apple IIc machines. Now, I am experimenting with writing a principal’s blog. Yet, in this post-modern, instantaneous, worldwide information system, posting to blogs is being outpaced by even quicker, hipper and more impersonal postings. I haven’t even begun to Flickr or Twitter yet!
School systems—and those of us who work in them—are notorious laggards when it comes to adopting innovation. For instance, schools where I work, and elsewhere I imagine, still are using the overhead projector as a standard classroom tool. According to Wikipedia, “the U.S. Army was the first to use overhead projectors in quantity for training as World War II wound down.” We still are. Where are the smart boards, LCD projectors and document cameras in our classrooms—like the ones that are commonplace at the Palo Alto Research Center and corporate facilities?
Neither lack of desire nor intelligence explains our slowness to pick up on better technology tools. I believe it’s a commodity problem—mainly time and money. We’re rarely provided with the money to invest in equipment and infrastructure. When we do get some new technology, there’s no time provided to figure out the technical and artistic details necessary to put it to good use. By the time we manage to learn to use our new tool, it may no longer be the useful, bright new innovation that it was. We may not be good at adopting innovation, but we’re great at chasing our tails.
Little twitterings may be nipping at its heels, but the blog is far from being on the endangered species list, and it’s both affordable and easy to use. More importantly, it can be a powerful educational tool. For example, check out Karl Fisch’s “Blogging: In Their Own Words.” An Internet celebrity, at least among many educators, Mr. Fisch is a public high school teacher in Colorado and well known for his very thought-provoking “Did You Know” slide show. Fisch makes a very compelling argument for the use of blogging in schools. He maintains that not only is blogging a creative teaching and learning exercise, and a potentially very rich way to feed your professional learning community, it also has the unique and distinct advantage of meeting students where they live socially.
After I saw Mr. Fisch’s movie I was compelled to at least try and make use of this technology. So on December 9, 2008, the Monarch Grove Principal’s Blog was born. I’ve even received my first comment! Now, if only I could get the LCD projectors installed and find funding for some document cameras. I ask you: what’s a principal to do?