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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Step 2 Understand Documents Behind the Cloud

Step 2 Understand Documents Behind the Cloud

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Although everything on computers can be easily linked and viewed, there are methods of keeping items private. You do want parents and students and teachers and others to connect and share, but not with everything. The first three types of documents that are private to your school are: •A private document repository •Email, attendance, grading (etc.) programs •School staff social networking site Private Document Repository This is your treasure-chest that holds essential information, such as your charter, ed plan, school calendar, staff directory, etc. The best tool for the repository is a wiki, which functions as an encyclopedia. Your wiki will contain the core knowledge of your school. Email, attendance, grading (etc.) programs These are the programs that your staff uses on a day-to-day basis. They are mandatory and part of everyone's job description. If teachers are required to use a particular program and you find that they are not doing so, it's time to market the benefits of the program and set up training for them to learn it. School staff social networking site One of the best ways to foster collaboration in today's new social networking milieu is to set up a private teachers' website. Or, Facebook allows you to set up invitation-only groups where people can post on each others' walls, chat, and share links. Once your teachers get the flavor of collaborating in this manner, they will feel empowered. They will not only wait for the (dreaded and) mandatory weekly teacher's meetings to connect with one another, and productivity will rise. Conclusion The three types of programs "behind the cloud" described here are the ones that are used regularly in your school, and are the core engine that drives your technology center. Most work well together via the magic of hypertext links, so you may choose programs from a variety of vendors or open-source tools. Give some thought to which programs will work best at your school, and make it a priority to get them up and running before the next school year begins.

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Katherine Judd's picture
Katherine Judd
College writing and communications teacher

There are a wide variety of such programs out there which lend privacy to teachers and students alike. I have used Connect, Whiteboard, Blackboard, WebCT, and Desire 2 Learn. I have a sight problem with using social networks as educational tools, beyond basic communications. Privacy cannot be guaranteed via social networks, despite what Facebook may announce next. Most of the "behind-the-cloud programs are administered by the school itself and are policed, if you will, by the IT department. But, as we all know, even that is not completely secure. We have all heard about breaches in school programs that leak students' private information.

I agree computers make such records easy to maintain, but I recommend using/developing your own spreadsheet/document which you can then save to a private CD/jumpdrive/etc. Such information can then be saved or copied without the possibility of hijacking.

EllyFaden's picture
EllyFaden
Technical Writer and English Teacher

Most wikis and social media "groups," such as yahoogroups, have privacy settings. Also, District IT departments carefully select which programs will be available at schools.

Being overly concerned with privacy prevents students' ability to use social networking in their educational experience. I think it's unfortunate to completely restrict this remarkable method of project-based learning and collaboration due to privacy concerns.

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