Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Wave Of The Future: Technology Is Happening

To facilitate communication with parents, some Arizona schools are asking teachers to maintain their own webpages: (emphasis added)
It's a common conversation.

Parent: "What did you do today?"

Child: "Nothing."

Now Gilbert parents won't have to struggle for scraps of educational information as more teachers post updates on the district Web site.

Starting this school year, district officials will push for better parent-teacher communication via individual teacher Web sites.

"One thing we heard . . . far and away, many parents want information on e-mail or Web site," said Dianne Bowers, district spokeswoman, referring to a parent survey conducted each fall.

So far, some 10 percent of teachers, or a little more than 200, have signed onto the voluntary program. More are expected to post cyberannouncements as the year progresses.

At Augusta Ranch Elementary, Jason Kravitz's Web page follows the district template: class information, assignments, events and ways to help.

The district provides the training, which lasts about 30 minutes, and teachers can use their Web pages in a variety of ways.

"It can be as complicated as the teacher wants to make it," second-grade teacher Kravitz said.

On his Web page, he informs parents to read to their child for 20 minutes every night and to review spelling words every week. He lists a variety of items parents can donate to help his class, such as copy paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

Some educators, such as Mesquite High physics teacher Sean Flaherty, go one step further, posting information for daily assignments on their personal Web sites.

In his physics class, Mesquite High senior Andrew Lyon goes online for a class project on mousetrap-powered cars.

"Some assignments cannot be completed without the information from the Web site," Lyon said.
Our own school district here in California hasn't gotten around to considering this idea.... yet. At the present, our "acceptable use policy" is written in such a way as to heavily discourage teachers' use of the internet as either a medium for instruction or communication.

In fact, the district's web filter is so narrowly-set that it prohibits viewing the blog that you are now reading, or any site that has the term "blog" on its page or in its URL.
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