[This is the text of an e-mail I just sent the 7 board members for the Orange County (FL) Public Schools.]
Dear OCPS School Board members,
Greetings from the freezing state of Iowa!
I read with interest the recent Orlando Sentinel article on educators, students, and social media. Before you forge ahead with any policies that target any specific technologies (whether they be cell phones, messaging formats, or online social media tools), I would encourage you to read my short blog post on this:
The key point of the post is that tools and technologies both change and actually are irrelevant to the underlying issue of inappropriate teacher behavior. If you feel as a board that your existing policies are insufficient (and I would be surprised if what you need already isn't in place), I hope that at least you will not frame them in terms of specific technologies (per my reasoning in the blog post).
I would be happy to discuss this with some or all of you if so desired. All my best.
Well put, Scott. This reminds me of the recent lawmaking activity regarding driving while texting. Texting is just one of many ways drivers can distract themselves, and (as far as I know) all states already have laws against driving while distracted. Adding a specific technology to the list of prohibited items/activities may succeed in making a short-term point, but it’s not the way to construct lasting policy.
Scott – I am normally in 100% agreement with what you said on this issue – the media is not the issue, the behavior is (and we should treat the behavior).
I’ve felt that way for most of my career and any policies I’ve had a hand in tend to leave technology out, and behavior as the issue.
However, I’ve recently been wondering if the media used today isn’t contributing to the issue. Are people more apt to do ill-advised things today without considering that they may have a very broad audience and greater degree of permanency? Are more educators today mistakenly understanding the technology? Or is it simply an issue of the mistakes happening in an arena where they are more visible than ever?
If I were to ask our teachers to explain their privacy when using a telephone, they could nail the variables easily. If I ask any of our Facebook users about the various privacy scenarios, I would guess I would get a wide variance in response.
I’m not saying this should cause districts to develop specific rules around the use of media (because I still think it is a behavioral issue), but it does make me want to develop guidance for educators and programs to assist people in understanding that “this is different”.
Would you recommend that districts to do anything aside from policy around this issue?
This is a great post and I hope that the OCPS School Board listens, though I fear they will not.
I am an educator in a neighboring district in Central Florida. My district too, has specific policies prohibiting the use of specific technologies. In fact, last week my GoogleDocs training was shut down by our district technology department because they do not approve of its use. We are standing still as technology 2.0 flies by us.
The worst part is that we are not educating our students about the proper use (actually, we are not teaching our teachers about proper use either). How do we change the mindset of these district leaders? It is sad.
I am a student at the University of South Alabama.
It is true…these tools and technologies are irrelevant to the underlying issue of inappropriate teacher behavior. Students should not be denied the possible benifits of using these tools. The problem is with the teachers tho. Its not that every teacher has a secret agenda when communicating with students via facebook, or any other media device, the issue is how to use these tools properly. I will be entering the teaching world in a few years and I hope to see something positive come of all this. Thank you for you words Scott!
If any of the board members take the time to read your post, they’ll have to do so from home. Your site is blocked by the filters on the OCPS network. Sites with blogs or personal information are routinely blocked as are sites with social networking, forums, and other communication/collaboration tools. And yet, one of the technology standards states, “Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.”