Thursday, October 24, 2013

Arne Duncan, #Edtechchat, and Some Thoughts on Digital Citizenship

On Monday Oct 28, from 8-9 pm ET, the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) will be guest moderating #edtechchat as part of Connected Educator month. We are excited and honored to have him join us and are looking forward to what will certainly be a very interesting and fast-paced chat!  However, we are aware that, given Secretary Duncan's role, some educators may wish to use this week's chat as a forum to vent some of their frustrations about being an educator and any shortcomings they see with our educational system. Therefore, in the spirit of encouraging good digital citizenship, I'd like to outline some guidelines for next Monday's #edtechchat. 

1. Before participating in Monday night's #edtechchat, please read Tom Whitby's post, Duncan's DilemmaPay special attention to the points that Tom raises in the final paragraph. Don't slam the door on the possibility of ongoing dialogue with Secretary Duncan before it has even begun.

2. #Edtechchat discussions are constructive spaces where we share ideas, best practices, and experiences, and this week is no different. The #Edtechchat team (which consists of myselfTom MurraySharon PlanteAlex Podchaski, and Katrina Stevens) is always grateful to the guest moderators who take time out of their busy schedules to join us. We expect participants to treat them with respect and this includes this week's guest, Arne Duncan.

3. Trolls are not welcome.  We ask that chat participants ignore them and focus on constructive dialogue. 

4. #Edtechchat is a fast moving, high volume chat even on a "slow" night, and we expect Monday's chat to exceed our previous participation records. As a chat co-moderator, I speak from experience when I say that it is impossible for anyone to read every tweet and keep up with the conversation without reviewing the chat archives (posted weekly at This includes Secretary Duncan. Please don't expect him to respond to your tweets or be offended if he doesn't. I expect that he will be as overwhelmed by the pace of the conversation as the moderation team is each week! To help you stay on top of the discussion, I have created a Twitter list of the #edtechchat moderators (I have added Secretary Duncan for this week) to which you can subscribe and then use to create a column in Tweetdeck. This screencast below shows you how. The moderators will be retweeting the questions as well as tweets/resources that we find particularly meaningful or helpful.

5. Keep your expectations realistic! It is a huge step for Secretary Duncan to engage directly with educators in this forum and, as Tom Whitby pointed out in the post referenced above, not without risk for him and his team. My hope for this chat is that perhaps, if Secretary Duncan has a positive experience interacting with rational, articulate and professional educators, he might be interested in continuing to dialogue with the Connected Educator community. That's all. I don't expect it will lead to a sea change in US education policy, and neither should you. 

6. If you wish to communicate your thoughts, ideas etc. to Secretary Duncan outside the limited scope of Monday's #edtechchat, we recommend using the following venues:

Mailing Address: Attn: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Office of the Secretary of Education:  202-401-3000
Executive Director of Educational Technology, Richard Culatta: 202-453-6381

7. No matter what your position on Secretary Duncan's policies, model the principles of good digital citizenship during the chat. Take the high road. Be respectful of others, even if you disagree. As Steven Covey says, Seek to understand, then to be understood. Let's show Secretary Duncan that the Connected Educator community is a class act, a community of intelligent, thoughtful professionals who work together to improve education for all kids. Civility and respectful dialogue is a rare commodity in Washington these days. Let's prove to him, by how we handle the discussion on Monday night, why we deserve a seat at the table when it comes to educational policy discussions. 

Be the change you wish to see in the world! 

How to Create a Tweetdeck Column using a Twitter List: