Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Clear Signs of Digitally Connected School Leaders

Are the leaders in your school and/or school district digitally connected? Being a connected educator today is one of the most important hallmarks of effective twenty-first century leadership. How do you know if your school leaders are connected educators? The links and “interactive channels” provided to social media accounts on official school websites can provide an enlightening perspective on this question. The following screenshot of the administration page for Clinton Public Schools, in Oklahoma, provides a clear sign of the district’s priority on being connected educators. Notice that EVERY administrator’s Twitter account is linked visually right beside their name and email address!

Administrators in Clinton Public Schools by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

Of course simply HAVING a twitter account doesn’t automatically equate to being a connected educator. It’s a valuable step, however, and the fact that Clinton Public Schools not only encourages staff to have twitter accounts but also amplifies and advertises those accounts on their official website is important. As I heard Marco Torres say years ago, “the Internet can be a STAGE” for our ideas and the ideas of our students. Kudos to Clinton PS for modeling and amplifying the importance of being connected educators!

One of the powerful benefits of using twitter as a connected educator is the way “streams” or “channels” of information can be aggregated and re-directed using different websites and apps. One of my favorite ways to filter and consume good ideas these days” is to create twitter lists for related accounts. I’ve done this for current astronauts, STEM teachers, companies promoting STEM innovation, etc. After creating a Twitter list, I can follow that list within my smartphone Twitter client (EchoFon) and also subscribe to that list on Flipboard, which I regularly use as a “digital newspaper” to consume as well as share interesting content online.

To better follow and learn from the innovative admnistrators in Clinton Public Schools, I created a Twitter list of their eleven channels. In addition to following this combined, “aggregated channel list” on my devices, I created an embeddable widget (which others can also copy and use, if desired) showing the most recent posts from everyone on this list.

This is a great way to further amplify ideas for yourself or for a wider audience. This is the same rationale behind the Yahoo Pipes powered student blog RSS aggregated feeds, for all 24 KidBlog sites at our elementary school. I have these "information feeds" (1 for 4th grade and 1 for 5th grade) included on my classroom STEM website's pages for Interactive Writing (4th grade and 5th grade.) This way, it's not necessary to visit all 24 blogs separately to see what students have posted things recently, I can just visit both those aggregated pages. (Those posts require teacher approval, by the way, our student blogs are all moderated.) I think this is a great model for all school blogs, BTW. Schools can and should have "aggregated feed rivers" of student-created content right on the school homepage, making it easier for parents, students, and others to see and connect to these ideas shared by learners both inside and outside the building. Technology can be a powerful amplifier, and we need to find ways to harness it's potential to help us become smarter and more connected with each other. This is a key idea underlying the conference breakout session I've been sharing this year, "Discovering Useful Ideas." I'll be making this into a 4 part, video-based shortcourse in upcoming months.

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2 responses to “Clear Signs of Digitally Connected School Leaders”

  1. David Britten Avatar
    David Britten

    Great post, Wes! You’ve given me some ideas on how to encourage more of our staff to engage with others through Twitter. It’s so simple I completely missed it!

  2. Sarah Avatar

    Thank you for this informative and thought-provoking blog post. Seeing
    the examples of school staff with their social media accounts connected on
    their district web pages was refreshing and inspirational, as I have not seen
    many staff in my own district following suite. I do agree that
    being a connected educator today is very important in terms of leadership, but
    also when connecting with students and the school community. In
    the example shown from Clinton Public Schools, every administrator had a
    twitter account listed beside their email address. Do you think that those staff
    members regularly use their twitter account to interact, answer questions, or
    collaborate? I think the accessibility and variety of
    ways to reach the staff is impressive, but only if each person is genuinely
    utilizing these platforms for communication.