Dean poined to the fact that Clayton Wilcox, the blogging superintendent at Pinellas County in Florida, has shut down his blog because of the acrimonious debate that took place among the commentors. It’s unfortunate, I think, not just because this will be seen as another indictment against the transparency and openness of blogs, but because I think he had an opportunity to find higher ground with it. In instances like this, I would have no problem with someone vetting the comments and not approving those that made no meaningful contribution to the conversation or were mean-spirited. I know there is a bit of a “slippery slope” there in terms of the potential for steering the community in one direction or the other. But in this instance where the blogger is high profile and where the intent is to start a dialogue, I’m sure a third party reviewer could have been put in place so that the debate could have remained respectful and prductive. In addition, some clear acceptable use guidelines would make that work even easier.
We need to be more imaginative in the way we deal with these issues, because I think Wilcox’s willingness to engage in a more open way was modeling something very important, not just to the people in his disctrict, but to educators and school leaders in general. As Dean points out, pulling the plug on these technologies when people in the community behave egregiously is not an answer for our superintendents or our students. Wilcox had a teachable moment here, and he failed to teach. Too bad.