Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Education Week: Districts Change Policies to Embrace Twitter, Facebook

Education Week: Districts Change Policies to Embrace Twitter, Facebook

It is great to see a few districts finally overcoming their fears and begin to look at how the new technologies can help improve student achievement. The number of schools willing to do this is still very small. It is a shame that so many of districts still operate out of fear. Teachers and administrators are often concerned about the rampant, unchecked, spread of web-based tools and mobile technology that allow students to bully, send inappropriate texts to each other and visit sites with dubious content. Even without these tools, do we have a system in place to prevent the students from doing these things without technology, e.g. writing notes, sending photos and letters? In my youth, without the web, student's still got their hands on inappropriate content, usually from their parents private desk, so what is the argument, just because they can be inappropriate faster?

I think the only real difference is the longevity of tweets and posts. A handwritten letter only has one copy, a tweet or post can go viral and millions of copies will exist. Our young students may not appreciate or care about that distinction yet. But what a great opportunity for classrooms to model appropriate uses and touch upon the concerns of web-based stuff. Where else will our kids are going to learn what is appropriate? A few parents might be monitoring their children's usage, but more often than not, the parents are not as capable as their children with these tools.? Dunn Elementary's use of twitter to both teach students how to write concise messages and stay connected with parents has a hugh potential to improve writing skills and parent participation by using relevant tools that keep students and parents engaged. They should be applauded, not only the teacher's use, but also the district's vision of what could be.

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