Live-blogging: Hi-Tech Communication, Lo-Tech Principal

I’m liveblogging a NAESP session by Tod Harrison from Durant Intermediate School in Oklahoma. Should be interesting.

Problem: getting information home
Just not getting there … and not much budget to play with. Also, many parents not available during the day. But they needed to get information to parents.

His assistant principal is not tech-challenged … and neither is Tod. But if he tells that to teachers, he’ll be doing tech support all day long. So … they’re looking for solutions that don’t involve them doing it all themselves.

But, found out that 60% of parents have email (at library, work, school). So, they started a weekly email newsletter. No size limitations, and no paper wasted either. Teachers started a section: Teacher Brags, in which teachers brag about how well kids are doing.

First week – hundreds of responses. Parents loved it. Interesting … his assistant created it in Word and converted to PDF to email. Don’t use an HTML email format or anything like that.

Evolving the idea
After starting, they then added podcasts, using a Mac server and Audacity for recording. Their podcasts are now publicaly available at Durant’s site.

They’re now using Macs with Garageband to capture podcasts. They’re doing enhanced podcasts with photos so that essentially you’ve got a presentation.

Now with kids
Now they’re getting the kids involved … 5th grade class did a video for presentation for the staff Building Leadership Team meeting. Took them about 20 minutes a day for 2 days, plus some editing time, I presume.

The kids know this … it’s simple for them, and teachers need to catch up.

Bumps along the path
There are some challenges they’re working through …

  • It’s technology … so there are still some bumps along the way.
  • Plus, it costs a decent amount of money.
  • Need to learn the programs
  • Takes time
  • Teachers have some technology fear

Interesting … I asked whether he’s had any pushback from parents who don’t have email. Not really, he said – he’s got 75 new email addresses in the last month. So more parents had email – or just got it – than he knew of originally.

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Now we’re just all chatting in the room, and the principal (Steven Puckett from Indian Land Elementary School) sitting next to me mentioned they use ConnectEd, which can send messages in multiple formats to multiple groups of people automatically.