James asks a legitemate question in response to my post on Friday, I guess. “Quelle point?” I know what he’s saying, that trying to work under the restrictions that my district is imposing is kind of taking away all the good things that Weblogs make available like commenting and free expression and all that other stuff. But I guess I bristle a bit at the suggestion that because that’s the reality we should just stick to the same old paradigm for creating school Websites which usually entails the almighty Webmaster cranking out static pages in Dreamweaver or Front Page creating the same old pretty monotonous product that most school sites currently have. Yeah, I know we’re not gonna be “blogging” here, at least not at the outset. But we are going to be enlisting 40 or 50 more people in the process. And we are going to be introducing Weblogs to teachers and students and parents which will most likely generate greater use in the classroom. And we’re going to be showcasing the best practices of our teachers and students. And in doing so we’re going to be able to communicate a heckuva lot more effectively with the people in our community by using RSS and group notification and more. At least in theory. And while the process may seem cumbersome and restrictive, the excitement that many teachers are showing at the potential tells me it might just work.
This is my reality and the reality of most public schools in America. There are concerns about how we present ourselves to our publics. There is unease with letting people express themselves freely on a district owned Web space. We want to protect our students who are, after all, still just kids. These concerns are legitimate. It is not the perfect fit for pure blogging. But so what?
The point is that no one knows that Weblogs can’t be a great tool for educators even without the interaction. And I can tell you I’ll never get to where I think we can get without proving this step first. So, I’m going to stay the course…
Tom Hoffman says
I think there is a progressive rationale for simply creating an easier to manage and update and generally more engaging school web page. The success of whatever reforms Will’s school may undertake now or in the future will depend in large part on the political support of parents and community members. Therefore, an effective website can be an important supporting element in improving actual teaching and learning.
And parental and community involvement in general is a good thing.
James Farmer says
I know… but isn’t it a shame that we just end up with websites when what we really want is weblogs… :o(
[OK, what I really want ;o>]
Will R. says
But James, that’s what I want too. And in my classes that’s what I’m getting. I guess I’m just not sure why Weblogs as Website is such a bad thing just because there’e no blogging going on. I’ve tried to make the two separate, and I think there is some great potential in using Weblogs as a Website just from a communication standpoint. Why do we have to see Weblogs as just places to do personal, reflective, introspective, opinionated publishing? Does that mean Weblogs can have no other function? I think they can. May not be as profound as student writing and blogging sites, but it’s meaningful just the same.
Terry Elliott says
Keep on, Will. Politics is the art of the possible, educational politics is the art of the possible under near impossible conditions. I usually don’t spout false dichotomies, but your choices are simple. You can either politically engage the powers that be in a “struggle” for their hearts and minds or you can quit the schools and engage a larger learning environment. You need to continue the struggle for your students in whatever capacity you can. It is a compromise. You know and I know it. Big deal. Keep on.
With that many people involved, I would suggest that you look into Drupal (http://www.drupal.org ). It probably has more than you need right now, but if you set it up now you won’t have to worry too much about it later.