Until very recently, I didn’t realize just how in the dark the schools are when it comes to the use of technology. Yes, I have been frustrated by the slow start up of the network computer, the antiquated refurbished PC attached to my state of the art Smartboard, and the many, many harmless websites that are blocked by Websense; however, I have dealt with those trials and not thought too much about what is going on in the rest of the world. As well, social networking sites and webmail are forbidden to students when using a school computer, so it was with GREAT surprise that I discovered the numerous applications for Twitter in the classroom. I nearly fell over.
First of all, I have not been a supporter of the use of social media at school. If students are permitted to use social media, there will be issues to address because there will be students who use it inappropriately: bullying and using inappropriate language for the school environment are the main issues.
When I discovered real, valid applications for SN sites like Twitter, I began to question if the benefits outweighed the detriments.
The attention given to the New Jersey Middle School principal, who called on parents to ban social networking, brought this issue to the forefront as news agencies picked up the story. Watch the story here:
I have been feeling uneasy and like there was something not quite right about this idea. Is it really necessary to ban it? Are kids really not capable of behaving appropriately online? Are they not capable of being taught acceptable usage? I discovered this New Milford School District High School principal, Eric Sheninger, agrees with my misgivings. He used to be an advocate for the banning of social media, but he has changed his perspective recently.
View his revolutionary perspective on the subject:
Sheninger wrote this in his blog entry “Banning is the Easy Way Out”:
As our world evolves, technology has become increasingly prevalent in the lives of students. They are now part of a digital generation that have incredible opportunities to create content, collaborate on a global scale, and follow a path of continuous, life-long learning that extends beyond the walls of a school. It is an exciting time to be in education because of the plethora of exciting tools that are currently available to schools. These tools can be successfully used when integrated effectively to readily engage students in the learning process.
I will be very pleased to see other leaders in education value social media as necessary tools for student learning.
I believe students must learn how to use these great tools for good instead of evil! They should be allowed to use social networking, and if they misuse it to bully another student their inappropriate behaviour must be addressed. If students misbehave in the school environment, they are disciplined. Using social media certainly allows for misbehaviour, but they are valuable tools for networking with people from around the world. The opportunities that are presented as a result of valuing and incorporating social media, certainly out-weight the possibly failings.