The Board Meeting was fun!
To bring you up to speed; Twitter is blocked in our district and until recently there was a workaround. My teaching and student-to-scientist interactions are greatly enhanced of not dependant on Twitter.
Even though the workaround did not make Twitter fully functional we have been able to experience some wonderful things. For instance, class to class discussions, chats with scientists, and inclass backchanneling.
When we came back from spring break we found the workaround, Tweetdeck.com on Chrome, to be blocked.
Back in February I invited school board members, state political leaders, state education leaders, as well as district leaders to see how we use Twitter in class. (Details of the visit in a previous post http://wp.me/p17e1J-3v) We gained several sympathetic ears during the visit. One individual is on the school board. After contacting the board member, he invited me to present my case for Twitter-in-education at a board meeting.
I prepared a three minute speech and found a student to do the same. We shared our message and sat down. Public comment sections of school board meetings are just that, comments. No no time for question and answers.
A few minutes after our speeches the second in command of IT came over to talk to me. He said he wasn’t aware that changes had been made to block the workaround. He also said they would begin working to fix the problem. Before the meeting was over he emailed me to say he had found the problem. A vender for the district had made some changes that have affected Tweetdeck.com and other Twitter login sites.
The stress of keeping my comments under 3 minutes kept me from distributing the materials I had brought for the board. The materials included a letter from one of the state Reps that had visited my class in February and a storify of the 300 tweets I received from educators, students, and professionals about the benefits of Twitter.
What happens next? I will continue to visit the school board and talk with district officials to get all of Twitter unblocked. – There are too many benefits to let Twitter to be blocked another day.
This experience taught something important. Many of the district leaders value the efforts educators are making to be “innovative” in the classroom. Why else would they reinstate a workaround to a blocked site.
We still have along way to go in our school system but we have come along way and have a better support system than many realize.
P. S. Video from the meeting and the letter from the state rep will be added later.