Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Networking as Educational Networking

Our school district is cracking down on employees' use of social networking tools. In a recent memo from Human Resources, we were reminded to use such sites responsibly. It was highly suggested that employees (i.e. teachers and administrators) not be friends with students or their parents.

This has created a dilemma for some of my colleagues. One teacher went so far as to unfriend all the kids in her neighborhood who were a part of her social network, including her own daughters. When does one's place of work supersede one's parenting? It doesn't! Having her own daughters as friends on a social networking site allows her to parent better.

Another teacher is concerned about being friends with the ladies in her women's church group on a favorite social networking site because some of these friends also have children who attend her school. God forbid, those kids see Ms. XYZ on their mom's friend list, especially posting to their moms' walls about Bible study on Thursday night.

Really? Really? Okay, I get it, the liability issues. I get that we have some professionals who lack a fair amount of commonsense. (Makes me wonder how they become educators in the first place, but I digress.) I understand the district's concerns about inappropriate use of such sites.

But when are we going to embrace the 21st century and embrace the technology tools that could really improve our academic and educational connections with students, parents, and colleagues?! When are we going to see social networking as more? When are we going to see the benefits of educational networking with social media?

There are so many great examples of educational networking on many of the social sites: students creating study groups, PTAs with groups or pages, teachers with subject area PLCs, whole core classes using social media to continue discussions outside of the classroom. How cool is that?! It's WAY cool!

If we're waiting for mainstream education institutions to fully accept social networking as an educational tool, we might be waiting for the 22nd century. By then, we'll have chips in our heads and not even district filters can stop the search and spread of information!

Sunday, August 1, 2010