Wednesday, September 1, 2010
What the "F"?
We'll as predicted Facebook and its improper use has become a little bit of an issue as we move into our 1:1 computing environment. Let's give it some thought.
First the ongoing issue in any school environment is engagement. Engaged students learn more and misbehave less. Good teaching leads to high levels of engagement and poor teaching leads in general to boredom and the host of issues that are attached to it. Students for years have found ways to disengage from doodling on their desk to passing notes. The issue is not the lack of complete focus but rather the new medium. Talking in class is fundamentally no different than sending a friend a message on Facebook during class. The problem is engagement the medium is rather irrelevant.
So where are we at with FB and appropriate vs. inappropriate use at school. We'll the tech guys have been crunching the numbers and low and behold some students have been on FB during class time. Surprised? The fun part is of course I've gotten a few emails about and rightfully so. My favorite one was the call from a gal at work who saw her daughter posted to FB during class. I asked her how she knew and she said she saw it on FB at work. I asked if her boss knew she looked at FB during work and the line went eerily silent.
Well anyway in an ideal world we could count on our students to avoid FB in class and only use it before school, after school, and during advisory. But alas we don't have a perfect world. But maybe just maybe our students don't understand that we know they are on FB at inappropriate times. So the way I see it we have five options.
1. Who cares: This option involves saying if you zone out you zone out and your only hurting yourself so enjoy the rewards of your labor and enjoy repeating your classes. But then again part of having a 1:1 environment is to boost our academic achievement so this doesn't seem like the best of all plans.
2. Warn them and Move on: Perhaps step one should be an initial warning. We could treat our students with dignity remind them of their obligation to work hard and focus on their learning and see if that solves it. Maybe it will maybe it won't. Time will tell. We can always deal with the super offenders on an individual basis.
3. Block FB during school except before school after school and during advisory: Pretty simple on this one and barracuda allows it to be done. The only downside would be in some classes a creative teacher can actually come up with creative educational uses for FB.
4. Block FB all the time: We'll this is a fun idea. Sounds kind of draconian but hey most work places seem to do this so why not. But then what else do we block? Of course we block the evil sites but where would this lead?
5. Facebook Detention: You heard it right. We can actually track usage individually and then just block offenders out for a long period of time. It's a nice natural consequence but a managerial pain. But then again it would be differentiated instruction. Kind of.
Anyway we'll be taking the issue up during the house leader meeting this week. We'll let you know the route we'll go. We might gather some feedback. Leave your comments below.