Social Media and Schools

From http://www.onbile.com

When I was on spring break, several social media vs school opinion pieces came through my feed. (let me insert here how nice it was to have time to actually read items that came through on my feed instead of just scanning them).

The first one was on Dangerously Irrelevant. What do you think of this proposed social media policy for school employees?  It got a whopping 51 comments, and it absolutely reminded me of the policy my county adopted. You can do this and this and this and you can’t do that and that and that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know we have to be careful. I know we need to be prudent. BUT so much of what education is IS about building relationships. I personally know the power of using the internet to build relationships. Several people, who were complete strangers years ago, are no longer. They are not only good, but great friends. Somewhere there is a fine line between being a professional and being a person. I think in our attempt to remain professional, districts have drawn heavy lines farther back than they needed to be.

In addition, we are actually judged as teachers by how well we convey 21st century ideas. I was at the Title 1 conference in Seattle and had the privilege of hearing William Daggett. He asked about technologies teachers are using and the list was surprisingly short. So this raises the question, why aren’t we as educators at least embracing technologies appealing to our students?

Then I read this one on Edutopia by Stephen Anderson who is in WSFCS. Along with a couple of other staffers, they developed a simple document that was not pages and pages long and not full of more dos and don’ts than can be remembered.

I’ve got to say, it gives me hope that we can figure out a way as teachers to realistically use social media in our classrooms and that districts will loosen the reigns a bit so that it can happen.

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Harvard Research and Privacy Issues

Harvard Researchers Accused of Breaching Students’ Privacy

How very interesting. Gather social information from the Facebook pages of your students and don’t inform them you are collecting that information. The project was approved by Harvard’s IRB, but since FB is a password protected site, surely it entered someone’s well-educated brain that it would be better to get subject approval also. I’m sure a large enough percentage of students would have said yes to make the study viable. Another kicker is that even though Harvard did not self-identify one of its classes as the subject group, an outside professor was able to identify Harvard, the class, down to one of the subjects based on their released information.

There is also an interesting Twitter study mentioned where not only was subject approval not obtained, but neither was IRB based on the fact that Tweets are like reading the newspaper. In that case, the researchers were following a specific protest with some of the Twitter account holders arrested. One of those arrested deleted his Twitter account, but not before many of his tweets had been preserved for research – without his knowledge of course. Ouch!

This summer, some family events have made me reexamie my own online presence and I’ve made a few changes. Although, obviously, you can’t control the people you associate with as indicated above. Gotta look at those friends, groups, likes periodically though. Now with Google+ on the scene, anyone’s online presence is certainly something warranting a few minutes of careful attention.

when will people learn

they cannot repeat whatever they think on social media?

This particular incident happened at the the University of Minnesota Duluth.

On April 14, two white female students allegedly engaged in a Facebook wall discussion about a black female student who had entered the study lounge they were in. The social networking site allowed the conversation to be seen by their Facebook friends, and it quickly spread. The racist conversation included several slurs.

There really are multiple issues here. The most explicit is the racism which I just cannot comprehend for society as a whole. What is it about the color of someone’s skin that makes them different enough to make any comment? Then there is the use of facebook to articulate any thought that comes into the brain. Why do people not understand that they things they write down will be seen and if they are of any kind of interest, they’ll be passed along? Talk about a wildfire waiting to take off! The other and less obvious issue is that phenomenon that we get to actually say or write anything we think or feel without regard to others. The notion that our need to express ourselves weighs greater than anything else on the planet is astounding and IMHO will do us great harm as a civilization.

Don’t type it if it’s about your job

Just in the last month (or a little over) there have been suspensions on multiple levels in education over facebook comments.

1. Student suspended for starting a page (apparently hateful) about teacher. Students who fanned page got after school suspension. article

2. NC teacher suspended for venting about student situation. My Post

3. College prof suspended for making what her employers thought were inappropriate comments. article

OK folks, if it’s about your school or the people that you interact with on campus and it’s not glowing, just don’t type it.

Unfriend or Defriend

First, I do know I’ve got to start thinking about deeper and more complex things. My brain has been on hiatus with the cough and stuffiness, but I’m back teaching and coursework starts up . . . well . . . today. In the meantime, frivolity is rather relaxing from time to time.

Esteban pointed out below that I incorrectly used the term Unfriend when everyone who is anyone knows it’s Defriend. I did google unfriend before I typed it into that post because I couldn’t quite remember (like I really and truly care 😉 ), and I did find Unfriend listed as that silly little ol’ word of the year. To put off further real work, I googled the title of this post and it seems I’m not the only one.

‘Unfriend’ or ‘Defriend?’ Facebook Fans Debate

Oxford: ‘Unfriend’ Is Simply More Popular
“Defriend seems to apply more to the action. Unfriend seems to apply more to the state of being,” she said.

But despite the continuing debate on and offline, Oxford said the decision was cut and dried.

“Unfriend was chosen because it’s much more common than defriend,” Lauren Appelwick, a publicist with Oxford University Press, Inc., told ABCNews.com.

😉