This blog post comes from Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The Indiana Department of Education is focused on preparing all students for success in a 21st century economy. Key to this mission is recognizing the powerful role technology plays in fueling the global economy and spreading information from one source to another.
Today’s classroom is very different than the one in which I studied. Not too long ago, I visited a group of elementary schoolers who were blogging for their daily English assignment.
My favorite technology tool is easily the iPad. I love its portability and find it very easy to use. My favorite application is the Facebook tool. Every day, millions of people connect and spread ideas via social networking sites—and Facebook is perhaps the world’s most successful Web 2.0 endeavor.
Having instant access to family members, friends and colleagues is an ability many young people take for granted. But to me, this new platform for holding an open dialogue with so many influential people is powerful and priceless.
As I travel across the state, visiting Indiana’s diverse school communities, I often run into educators, parents and students who mention an article or status posted on my Facebook page. Their ability to keep up with my day-to-day thoughts and experiences creates a new level of openness between the state superintendent’s office and the field. My ability to read their messages and ask for their insights with just the click of a “post” button is invaluable.
As we continue to create new avenues for schools and students to succeed via technology, I look forward to watching local schools innovate with Facebook. Many school corporations, schools and classes already have Facebook pages that attract interest and participation from parents, educators and students.
Facebook has the power to connect people and groups who would otherwise never cross paths. Imagine our educators and students harnessing this full potential in a classroom setting. If you’re writing a book report, why not leave a class question on the author’s official Facebook page? If you want to connect with community organizations and stakeholders, why not share the amazing learning going on in your school on their page? Lastly, teachers can post information and reminders on their class pages to keep both students and parents informed.
These ideas are just a starting point. As usual, real innovation will take place at the local level. Of course, all student use of Facebook in the classroom should be monitored by teachers to ensure student safety and appropriate usage. Keeping our kids in a healthy learning environment is always the top priority.
As we chart a new path in the digital age, it’s important to remember our commitment to providing all students the educational opportunities they deserve. This means providing all students access to the digital tools that will dominate this new era of innovation.
That’s why our department has taken important steps to make sure local school leaders can more easily integrate technology into the classroom. Textbook dollars can now be used to purchase laptops. We’ve provided millions of dollars in innovation grants to help school corporations purchase digital curriculum tools.
Working together, we can build on recent gains to ensure our students are prepared to compete and win in the digital age. Thanks, and feel free to leave me a message on Facebook!