It's Leadership Day 09, details here. My post is simple. Ignorance of student used technology is legally unacceptable.
On Thursday I ran a manifestation determination simulation in my special education class. The fact pattern had a student threatening a teacher and school via twitter (see threat here). Because my future school administrators did not understand the basic elements of the technology, they made a crucial error. Some of them thought the @queenters posts were someone else speaking, not Nordeer (the threatening student). They were making decisions about a student's future, and relatedly the safety of the school, with knowing ignorance and did not bother to try to understand the technology first before they exercised policy-making authority. My students admitted this early in the meeting: "I don't know anything about Twitter" was a common statement. Yet, we plowed forward into the MD hearing without taking the 5 minutes to understand the basics.
Besides putting student and teacher lives at risk and incorrectly deciding the future of the special education student, my students acted recklessly in proceeding while knowing they were ignorant of the technology, which in many jurisdictions may put them outside the scope of state immunity provisions. So, technology ignorant administrators are not only putting their school at risk, but are also potentially putting themselves and their families at risk.
I have a class full of very good students who will all be very good school leaders in the near future. In the past this cohort has shown they really value technology (they are avid google docs users as a collaboration tool, for instance). But, we educators have fundamentally accepted our ignorance of the technologies that students are using. This lack of literacy in an area where students are so literate is legally unacceptable and can have some really rough ramifications.
There are a whole lot of fantastic reasons for school leaders to understand and use digital technologies, and folks all over the world today are articulating those. School leaders, please become technologically literate for those reasons ... but, if you need a little extra incentive, know that if you don't learn it, it might cost you your job or your house.