The impact of the internet on the field of education has been revolutionary. In Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, the inception of Wikipedia was referenced as one of the most significant outcomes of social media. Though it had no “owners” and made no money, people became vested in its success. As the only nonprofit in the top twenty list of websites, Wikipedia’s unique user “flexibility” model allows for anyone to contribute to its articles on asphalt…to Koch snowflakes (Shirky, 2008).
Changes in education very much mirror the changes we have witnessed in how people are now able to access information. The transition from the “traditional encyclopedia” to the collaborative effort of Wikipedia has undoubtedly changed the way our students learn in their classrooms. Formal textbooks have been replaced with ebooks that can be updated with the click of a button. Students no longer visit the library’s card catalog to look up information but rather hop on the Web and search for their facts. As an educational leader it is imperative that I stay up to date on the current technologies so that I can share this information with my school community. Professionally, I have embraced the internet and consistently encourage my staff and students to do so as well.
Web 2.0 tools have proven to be a huge asset to me in my role of Principal. Specifically, Google Apps for Education has been amazing to work with. I converted my school’s website and email system over to Google at the beginning of last year. Not only was this a huge cost savings for us, but it was also much more user-friendly for my teachers. We are now able to seamlessly integrate Google Drive, Google Circles, Google Calendar, etc. as a staff. Agendas for faculty meetings are created collaboratively in Google Drive, the computer lab schedule or the iPad cart sign-out is shared in Google Calendar so it remains current at all times. In addition, this year we had to update our School Improvement Plan. Each committee was able to complete their portion in Google Drive without sitting together for hours with their peers. It has made our school much more productive and vastly improved the communication amongst our staff. My teachers feel empowered as contributors to the decisions that are made regarding our school.
As a leader, I am aware of the significant role ‘wirearchy’ has come to play in the corporate world. It’s interesting to consider that ‘wirearchy’ is less about the actual technology and more about the connections and collaborations that result from the availability of the technology. Leaders must recognize this and provide opportunities for these types of interactions for their employees. Businesses no longer function in an isolated corporate world, but rather, as a result of this notion of ‘wirearchy’ they have become connected and networked together. Humans, as social creatures, are able to benefit from these types of relationships and work together to achieve common goals. As a result, workflow and production become more efficient but de-routined (Egham, 2010).
Education is one of the few fields in which some sort of routine must remain intact. Aside from the gaining popularity of virtual schools, school days begin and end at set times. Throughout the school day, students and teachers follow a pre-determined schedule of classes. It is what is occurring during those classes that has begun to vastly evolve. Schools are now focused on their students as “21st century learners” and have begun to realize that what has traditionally worked in the past must now change. The new buzz words in education today such as “blended learning” and the “flipped classroom” indicate that teachers are teaching differently because they have begun to realize that as a result of the Internet and Web 2.0 tools, students are learning differently. Just as Gartner (2010) released its list of the “10 Key Changes” in the nature of work, these will most likely be adapted in order to exist in the educational setting. As more and more of my teachers embrace these new methods, it is exciting to witness the increase in excitement and engagement of students in their 21 century learning environments.
Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody. New York: Penguin Press.
Egham, UK. (2010, August 4). Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1416513
Husband, J. (2014). Wirearchy. Retrieved from http://wirearchy.com/what-is-wirearchy/