As I’ve ranted before in this space, our overly large school district is addressing the need to provide teacher and students with 21st century communications tools by adding blogging and wiki tools to our closed garden known as Blackboard.
While these modules are somewhat less powerful than I would like (ok, a lot less), it’s a start. Hopefully we can convince teachers to give them a try, both for their own communications and their students’ use.
And then demand something better.
Unfortunately, there is one key piece missing in these tools that will probably limit the number of people who will get past that start. Neither the blogs nor the wikis have an RSS feed.
According to the company that produces the plugins, that feature is available. We’ve never been able to actually try it but that’s not the reason why the feed is missing.
The big hold up on using this essential tool are the fears of the people leading our system, which ties into the larger anxiety over the concept of students publishing their work to an audience beyond the walls of their classroom.
Our administrators (and many teachers) are almost deathly afraid that something a student creates will leak out into the real world.
Which is very funny since their bosses (aka, the school board) have created a “strategic goal” for the system which says that our students should be able to “effectively use technology to access, communicate, and apply knowledge and to foster creativity”.
How on earth do you make that happen (well, maybe excluding the creativity part) in anything approaching a Web 2.0 world without technology like RSS?
Anyway, that’s just the start of the argument we’re trying to make to the big bosses. We’ll see how it goes.