Will the fear mongering over social media in schools never cease? Last month, middle school math teacher Melissa Cairns, from Buchtel Community Learning Center in Ohio, became the latest victim. She was put on unpaid leave after an Akron public schools worker noticed her joke Facebook photo of a group of students with duct tape across their mouths. Cue the sanctimonious handwringing: “Has she violated the students’ privacy? That’s what we’re concerned about,” school board chair Jason Haas is quoted as saying.
This is just the latest example of how restrictive laws and policies concocted last century are ineffective at best and downright damaging at their worst. So what’s the best way to deal with these new realities? Read what Tech&Learning advisor Cathy Swan has to say (Being Social: How social media can transform your school classrooms). Cathy is the technology integration teacher for the humanities and social sciences at New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT. She is also one of the most innovative educators in the country when it comes to using these new tools. Her solution in a nutshell? Remove the restrictions and just get to work teaching digital literacy, citizenship, and etiquette while using these amazing new technologies to enhance learning.
Of course it’s essential to set parameters. Cairns has herself admitted that, in retrospect, the post was a bad idea, but: “Do I think that this one mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I’ve done? Absolutely not… When your emotions are involved, that’s when you learn things.” When it comes to social media, we’re all learning as we go along.
— Kevin Hogan