U.S. Educational Stimulus Aid and EdStimulus.org - Feedback?

I could use some feedback for a simple website I've built around the idea of helping promote good long-term decision-making with the educational stimulus funds. The idea is fairly simple, but has a "subtext" as well: to also help show administrators the value of Web 2.0 and social media by giving them some direct experience with benefits in a very practical area.

EdStimulus.org has the following components:

1. A Twitter feed for announcements (especially of events).
2. A public calendar of any events I see, both free and paid, around the educational stimulus package (taken from a Google calendar and updated automatically).
3. A way for anyone to apply to hold their own Elluminate sessions (for free) on this topic. I can do this because of my work for Elluminate, and their interest in having the Elluminate platform make a difference (and be visible) in this larger discussion. Will people find a use for this? Are there folks who will be interested in hold a free webinars/discussions on using the stimulus funds wisely?
4. A prototype discussion forum. I really need help understanding this--which is: what kind of discussions are decision-makers going to want to have, and will they want the confidentiality of a private network in order to feel free to talk about this topic?
5. A links page to other resources (that draws, if anyone is interested, from my Diigo social bookmarking account).
6. A news page with a feed from Google News based on the phrase "educational stimulus."
7. An archive page for links to recordings of past events.

I'm a little fascinated by the ability that our current social media landscape gives me to relatively easily create and update a resource site like this around a specific topic. But I don't think the site will make much of a difference if I don't get some help in refining the idea and growing it beyond my initial brainstorm.

Here's where I think I could use some help:

1. Are there features that could be included in the site that I haven't thought of? (For instance, since a portion of the funds will be given out based on grant applications, would it help to have a blog specifically on that topic as a part of the site?)
2. If the site is truly useful, how do we get the word out to administrators and decision-makers?
3. Is there anyone dying to help with this? I'm figuring it would help to have some others who can track events, bookmark resources, give information webinars, and facilitate panel discussions or group meetings.

Thanks for your attention. Please feel free to respond here or to email me directly at steve@hargadon.com.

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Steve,
I think this is a great idea.What do you think about adding an area that includes specific resources; perhaps conferences (virtual or F2F)- where these admins can go to learn about what the teachers need to use to achieve their teaching goals? I would not want to see a long list of conferences or podcasts or Nings to join. Although there are certainly many valuable ones. I think top-level administrators want to be given one or two choices that have already been skimmed off the top. Now, I see that you already have links and feeds. I'm thinking more about an area with direct recommendations tied to standards. As much as we all hate to deal with testing and standards, we have to admit that it's the field we have to play on.

Lee
You know much more about this than I do. The idea has been to be a resource, with lots of links to different activities, so you'll have to help me envision something more "targeted" or filtered. What would be needed to build an area with direct recommendations tied to standards?

Thanks for responding, Lee!
Steve,
Since hearing that something is "cool" is the kiss of death, we need to avoid that verbage and get our admins to understand why teachers NEED to use these tools in their classrooms in order to get their students to meet the standards.Below is a portion of a standards-supported document I created to help top level administrators understand the value of VoiceThead. (Obviously they would need to see it as well, since to see something like VT is to love it.~ However, we're lucky if we can get 5 minutes in front of them.)

My vision for what you are trying to accomplish is to have an area where you list the tool, explain it, link to generic (not state specific) standards, maybe one link to good research, and maybe suggest upcoming conference and sessions dedicated to the tool where anyone can go for further F2F or online learning.

Example of standards linked to VT:
Since VoiceThread may be integrated within any area of the curriculum, it is difficult to assign standards specific to the use of VoiceThread alone. Listed below are a few standards that would easily be met by using VoiceThread in any lesson. Other standards would depend on additional content included.

Information and Media Literacy


- The student comprehends the wide array of informational text that is part of our day to day experiences.

- The student uses a systematic research process for the collection, processing, and presentation of information.

- The student develops and demonstrates an understanding of media literacy as a life skill that is integral to informed decision making.

- The student develops the essential technology skills for using and understanding conventional and current tools, materials and processes.

Communication


- The student engages in the writing process and writes to communicate ideas and experiences.

- The student effectively applies listening and speaking strategies.a
OK, I really like this, but where would be the best place for this? On the Classroom 2.0 wiki? Somewhere else? Should a separate site for Web 2.0 in education be created?
Steve,
Great idea. I definitely think it would be helpful to have the open forum for folks and I love the focus on key decision-makers. With so much information flowing, I know it's hard for everyone to keep up, let alone make good decisions. One of the most valuable things may be the sorting of priority issues and topics. Thanks for kicking off what is sure to be a good forum.
Thanks, Ann. I'm wondering where the best place for a forum would be. A new Ning? Here? Something else?
I'm in the midst of working on this kind of thing right now. I'm extremely interested in reading and staying up-to-date on this topic. If there's a way I can help, let me know.

I'm not an positional leader in my district, but I've just been given a leadership assignment around instructional technology. None of our Ed leaders "get it" and are asking for my help.
Melissa:

I'd love help. Have you got any ideas? We could add a blog to the site and you could post to that. You could hold an online meeting or a series of them on what you are finding out. Does either strike you at all?
The more I think about it (and I've only really been thinking about it since 4pm yesterday!), the more I believe it needs to focus on literacy. That's a huge strategic push in our district. If that would be helpful to others, I could start keeping a blog (video or written) of my journey and make that available.

Does that sound plausible?
I like this idea. Having an area for grant writers and administrators to access information about grants and share information would be wonderful. Additionally, having a resource section that helped administrators and decision-makers find alternative, less expensive resources for their schools. Like many web resources concerning green technology and reducing energy, having a portal to resources that helped with staff development, open-source software for classrooms, avenues for collecting funds for programs like sports, music, art and other 'elective' pieces of the school curriculum.

Additionally I would like to see a section specifically directed to teachers and other educators in the schools. Information pertinent to educators and what they can do.

I would be happy to help where I can.

Rory
Your first idea is crazy good--I've wished for someone to start an "Administrator 2.0" site, knowing that I don't have the background or experience for it, but feeling like all of what you mentioned could be a part of that. (I do own a good domain name for it, if you or anyone wants to spearhead! :) I also think we could build out those resources on LearnCentral.org.

Your second idea intrigues me, and I like it! What kind of information would they want, or would be helpful to them? Can you give me some examples?

Thanks!
I have at least two principals - one elementary and one high school - who would be great candidates to hook in. Let me know if you do this!

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