I started listening to Steven Johnson’s latest book, Perfect Future: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age. Early on, Johnson explains his belief that “if it bleeds, it leads” – this notion that things are getting worst and as a nation we are not making progress on many levels. And that is what is reported in the media. This proposition got me thinking about public education and progress. The public perception is that the education system is broken and nothing could possibly be working. While there is much room for improvement, I know there is more progress occuring in the system than is reported or shared in the print media or across social networks.
Yes…in Pennsylvania we repeatedly hear news about a governor , legislature and department of education making life exceedingly difficult for public schools – low budget indexes, vouchers or programs resembling vouchers, unrealistic expectations for student performance, new teacher evaluation systems and on and on. But what are those actually working in public education doing to share the progress of public education – the real stories of success, innovation and addressing challenges? Public schools need to start managing their our own digital footprint.
School and district leaders must develop a network awareness so they can harness the power of digital networks to turn the “no progress” message of education into a positive one. We can no longer rely solely on external media to create our digital footprint, we must do this ourselves by building cutomized social platforms to communicate the progress our institutions are making.
This is a rather significant shift in mindset but one that is critically important. Public education is no longer the only game in town. It use to be that if you lived in a neighborhood you went to the local neighborhood school (unless, of course, your parents could afford to send you to an independent school or home school you). Today, families have more choice. In Pennsylvania, we now have EITC grants available for students to attend private and parochial schools. Pennsylvania also has a significant population of students choosing to attend charter and cyber charter schools. Choice isn’t necessarily bad, but it does require public schools to dedicate more resources to getting the positive message of progress out to the public.
What are you doing to help create a positive digital footprint for your school or district and to turn around the negative message of “no progress”?
One example of what we are doing is connected to our 1:1 laptop program and teaching/learning initiative TL2014.