POLICY TO PRACTICE: With the recent release of the NYC Department of Education Social Media Guidelines, the edu-blogosphere has been drawn in again to a classic debate: do you regulate the thing or do you regulate the behavior? New York went after the technology, drawing lines between “personal” and “professional” social media. What’s considered “personal” and “professional” for students, however, can be hazy. In this NYT SchoolBook article, Ms. Beth Fertig points out that some teachers will no longer be able to interact students where they tend to congregate-- on activities such as DrawSomething or Xbox Live. Worse, regulating how teachers use what to some is novel technology may discourage them from trying it out. That would be a shame at a time when Facebook apps for education are growing.
By contrast, This piece from Spotlight by the MacArthur Foundation argues that "boundaries should be established by good guidelines and smart behavior, not by placing specific rules on continuously evolving technologies." We couldn't agree more. In this Innovative Educator blog post, Ms. Lisa Nielson highlights the New Canaan Public school district in Conn., for its all-encompassing two-page responsible use policy. One signature from students and another from parents, and teachers are free to innovate as they see fit within the policy. (Interesting, too, that New Canaan had the policy first and is now looking to experiment with the tablet hardware.) Such a policy may be a stretch for some districts but Ms. Nielson smartly points out that policy is made for "real people with real language that can be understood by parents, students, and teachers." She includes seven steps for bringing social media into the classroom, created by Mr. Steve Anderson in conjunction with Facebook. Alternatively, working with educators, IT executives and school board members, CoSN has also developed Acceptable Use Policies in the Web 2.0 and Mobile Era, which includes a handy table of state rules on filtering and cyberbullying.