Sunday, January 10, 2010

21st Century Tools in Education: Start with email.

Does your school give every student an email account?  Why not?  Among safety concerns and inappropriate use issues, its seems time to place individual responsibility as the key and give this powerful tool to the students.

I'm wondering if when the use of paper was introduced in schools if teachers had issues and concerns about students writing and sharing bad notes to other students.  Did they worry that students would be tempted to draw pictures while the teacher is teaching.  Tools are tools and students can decide to use them for the good of for the bad.  Let's give the tools to the students and ask, check and teach responsible use.  Like paper when we see problems with inappropriate use we take steps to warn, correct, teach and in extreme cases punish to learn.

So why should we give this tool to students?

1) Great communication tool.

2) Opens up the use of other technology tools to stedents.  They can sign up and use RSS feeds, blog, libraries and wiki's.

3) Open up collaboration tools.  Documents, forms, and spreadsheets where students can collaborate with each other promoting learning.

Most districts provide emails to staff members and have seen the power.  Let's take the next step in putting these tools in the hands of the students that need to use them to learn.

Google offers Email to educational institutions.
Schools can now keep up with technology demands without the hassle of managing hardware and software. Google Apps Education Edition is free for academic institutions - with no advertising for students, faculty, and staff - and offers a variety of applications to keep your campus connected. For more information click here.


  1. Great! Loved your references to the introduction of "paper" and the implications. I'm curious how you would approach this from the "text" message perspective, instead of the "email" perspective. Do you see a difference?

  2. A tool is a tool you can use it for good and bad. Text, chatting etc. could be powerful learning tools based on use. I'm for giving students these tools also. Most of the already.

    A friend of mine commented "you can't regulate stupidity." But I think we can teach and model how these tools can help one learn.

  3. It still boggles my mind that technology as basic as e-mail is still taboo with some school districts! Kids are more connected then ever before... why can't we get them to connect with each other, their teacher, and as a result their own learning?

  4. Tech is as natural to today's kids as breathing! Kids talk about things we don't want them to. Should we forbid talking or better yet, have them plug their ears and cover their eyes?

  5. Amazing how we so often blame tools... kids more now than ever, need solid adult guidance in this increasingly digital world. Kids naturally and intuitively use technology but often not well or deep - that's why teachers and parents need to be involved with them.

    BTW, Microsoft through Live@EDU provides free Exchange/Outlook accounts/mailboxes for students and it ties into their login at school.

  6. Excellent observations / corolaations to the past. Who is it that doesn't want to empower students with school email accounts. I don't hear parents in my districting screaming NO. Why are administators so reluctent to take this step? America is fast loosing it's race to the top because it doesn't include relevant learning for the 21st century!