Sullivan County school system joins Twitter

Rick Wagner • Nov 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s school system is tweeting, but so far only to a handful of people.

Director of Schools Jack Barnes said the system decided to add Twitter — an Internet social networking site that allows short text message-type transmissions — to its arsenal of ways to notify folks about changes in the school system schedule.

The system notifies students, teachers, staff and the public through its Web page and the news media.

“We’ve only got like four people signed up,” school system spokeswoman Janie Barnes said recently.

As of Friday afternoon, the Twitter link on the system’s Web site showed eight followers, but as word gets out she said that should grow.

However, she and the director said one caveat is that the tweets cannot be delivered to any computers on the school system’s computer network.

“It’s a social networking site, and it is blocked,” said Jack Barnes, whose name is on the Twitter account.

He said the system is not on Facebook, another social networking site.

The school system also is using Internet technology in other areas.

During a professional development session Oct. 30 at Sullivan Central High School, some teachers learned about using the free Internet-based Skype phone and video system to in effect do virtual field trips and visits in the classroom.

Smart Boards and other brands of large touch screens, which are taking the place of dry erase boards that replaced chalk boards, are becoming more and more common in classrooms.

And a paperless classroom, using small handheld computer-like devices called Slate Boards, is under development in a fifth-grade classroom at Blountville Elementary School.

Also, David Timbs, director of testing and accountability, has posted a podcast on the school system’s Web site on the Tennessee 2009 Report Card data. Classes across the system have done podcasts on their Web sites, too.

Jack Barnes recently did a podcast on the Tennessee Diploma Project, and the two podcasts combined have generated 23,000 hits in the past 30 days.

Also, the school system recently got word that a California-based company had ranked the system’s Web site and podcasting in the top 50 nationwide.

The Report Card data went live on the Tennessee Department of Education Web site Tuesday morning. It ranks schools and school systems on a re-indexed scale statewide.

For more information on the Sullivan County school system visit www.sullivank12.net.

For more information on the Tennessee Report Card visit http://tn.gov/education/reportcard/index.shtml.

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