Oklahoma’s new state superintendent of public education, Janet Barresi, has not wasted any time leveraging the power of social media to communicate with constituents since taking office on January 10th. Not only is Janet personally using Twitter and Facebook to post as well as reply to other folks, she (I assume with the help of her staff) has also created new channels on YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr. She is sharing weekly, short video updates which are embedded on the homepage of the SDE and cross-posted to both YouTube and Vimeo.

Weekly Message from Supt. Janet Barresi 1-21-2011 from OK Dept. of Education on Vimeo.

Weekly Message from Supt. Janet Barresi 1-14-2011 from OK Dept. of Education on Vimeo.

This is a welcome and potentially disruptive change, since many of our 500+ Oklahoma public school districts presently block ALL access (for teachers as well as students) to video sharing sites including YouTube and Vimeo. Part of the social action campaign I contend we need for balanced content filtering in our schools involves highlighting the constructive and beneficial ways social media is being used for communication today. I made a similar point in my June 2010 post, “If Google Moderator and YouTube are good enough for the White House, what about your classroom?” We SHOULD have these tools open and available for learners to use in responsible ways in our schools. We need to focus on helping students develop into responsible DIGITAL CITIZENS today, rather trying to block the entire interactive web and telling our parents, “See… We’re keeping your kids SAFE.” This is like sending our kids to the lake without any prior swimming instruction and supervised experiences IN and around water. It’s a naive and foolish path to take.

Janet’s message in her video update last week was these “three R’s:” Rethink, restructure, and reform. It will be interesting to continue following the SDE’s social media channels and staying up to date on what new initiatives and directions the department supports under Janet’s leadership. Oklahoma’s education department was led for the past twenty years by Sandy Garrett.

Janet Barresi joins Burns Hargis, the President of Oklahoma State University, as an Oklahoma education leader utilizing video sharing sites like YouTube to communicate directly with constituents.

It’s great to see these local education leaders modeling the ways social media can be used constructively and powerfully to better communicate with others. Do you know of other elected education leaders in other states who are also utilizing sites like YouTube and Vimeo to regularly communicate “officially” from their offices and departments?

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