Lightbulb!! Schools + Social Networking.

n Totally Wired, I report on the challenges of the filter/block/ban approach. You end up filtering sites you actually need, teens can hack through blocks, and schools and libraries end up blocking or banning access to technologies low-income students may not be able to experience at home. Most importantly, you miss out on the opportunity to teach kids how to use the internet safely and responsibly as well as how to be media literate and information literate. I understand that it’s easier just to remove the temptation for teens to misuse this technology at school, and that educators are already swamped just trying to teach a core curriculum, meet standards and raise test scores. The reality is that by not engaging with students around these technologies, we are abandoning them to navigate the internet on their own with their peers instead of being trusted guides and mentors.

Totally Wired

Anastasia, esteemed author of Totally Wired (I’ve TWO copies… where’s yours people? p.s. Thanks Joi Podgorny), wrote a great post about social networking/communities on her blog. Last week I wrote an extensive blog entry about it myself

I poo pooed (yes, I just said poo pooed) the majority of social networking in school mainly because I felt like it was out of place. Sure… a month-long UNIT about social networking & safety, etc, could be worked in… but i didn’t see WHY kids should be chatting in their myfacebo (I should totally TM that, lolz) accounts during school hours. Seems like there is SO MUCH MORE they need to be concentrating on then who said what in so-in-so’s comments. Not to mention schools can BARELY deal with the social consequences of online-bickering and bullying as it is (the whole “whose responsibility is this?” question between parents, teachers, public, government, and school boards).

Before, I brought up the idea of using social networks for social change– ex change.org, invisiblechildren.com, etc. Empowerment and education through worldly social exchange. Promoting new technology and peer-created social changes. Contributing to the moral fiber of maluble youth. …basically Gore’s MTV initiative or MacArthur Foundations constant adventures. THAT to me makes a heck of a lot more sense, right?

Well. Anastasia, and her brilliance, pointed out some very important aspects of social networking & school.

1. Why, David, are you trying to BEAT the Giant, when you can befriend him and show him “the light”… no arm twisting or brow beating. Guide. Inspire. Teach from WITHIN social networks and education. Guide the course of youth interactions WHILE they’re walking the path.

2. Izzy, Izzy, Izzy… what is this, elitism? DOH. She’s right in pointing out that NOT EVERYONE has the benefit of a lappy or a compcomp at home… and even then, how many have linkage to the internet? The people who need the web the MOST just might be those who are disadvantaged at home regarding the lack of ability. Not only does it leave them out of the social loop at school, it also puts them at a HUGE disadvantage in their tech-abilities and web-street-smarts. Zoinks.

Having said both… how do we manage to introduce social networking geniosity (i love that mashed word) with edu-ma-cation… while still avoiding the extra lump of work for teachers (reallocating much needed classroom lessons of an ulterior subject) and avoiding the cyber-social-bully-ball in study hour (when they’re invading the net for all purposes BUT studying)?

Quandary, quandary, quandary. Something to ponder and play with. Explore and debate.

in the mean time… has anyone considered before/after school class?

Now, now, hold that groan. Suck in that sigh. I’m more or less offering a wee idea. Poo poo if you wish, as thats what poo pooing is for. Here’s my suggestion:

Has anyone approached junior college and colleges for assistance? As someone who went through the college to be a teacher– I/We/They are ALWAYS seeking more opportunities to get in their internship hours… and WHAT better way to get young teachers their hours than offering after-school opportunities to run social networking/computer savvy classes for teens/tweens… heck, why not even through parents in there too? (Separate from the tater tots, of course)

Here’s my thinking

1. Student Teachers are looking for intern hours, credit, experience (etc)

2. Student Teachers are looking for resume additions

3. Student Teachers are looking for hands on experience running programs for youth

4. WE (the public) need future teachers to UNDERSTAND and EMBRACE the rapidly growing world online

5. We (the public) need future teachers to engage in social networking programs to better understand the existence of youth in this Goliath of an instant-gratification-medium

6. We (the public) need people to help GUIDE our youth in their social networking, web-based wanderings…

7. Youth need to see the opportunities online that are meant to empower, engage, and inspire

8. Youth will be engaging themselves in social networking in an APPROPRIATE environment (instead of during class, or study hall– when education should be at the advantage over personal satisfaction)

9. Teachers are not overloaded with more hours, more work

10. Parents can receive education, understanding of the web to better understand their children and the importance of the net.

11. HECK… no community college or university  sporting teachers in the area???  See if you can get some tech guys in school.  Have them come from their uni and give a UNIQUE education of web wanderings.

…Anyway… that’s my momentary light bulb.

Questions, comments, poo pooings? Leave ’em in the comments. They’d be MUCH appreciated.

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