The Facebook issue is different from that of Educational Networking

There is an interesting debate going on in the cutting edge TAFE organization. They are discussing whether they should unblock Facebook for professional development reasons. (See Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes by Allison Miller.)

Sue Waters responds:

“My strongest belief is we must separate the debate on the educational use of social networking totally from whether Facebook should be used in an educational context. These are two totally separate issues.

Facebook is just one form of social networking; the educational benefits of social networking shouldn’t be devalued because managers and educators base their views on social networking solely on their own personal limited knowledge and/or experience of sites like Facebook and MySpace.”

She and I line up squarely on this issue. However, I do agree with Allison on this point:

We need to teach people about SNet-iquette (Social Network ettiquette), and the positive and negative effects of their online ‘behaviour', and how they are creating an online ‘digital foot print'.

I believe educational institutes should be ‘leading the way' in educating people about these things. Therefore, by encouraging staff and students to use these sites as educational tools, we are encouraging the conversations necessary for people to work out what is, and what is not, appropriate in an online environment.”

Although there have been times I unblocked facebook (like for screen captures for Flat Classroom or Horizon Projects.) I also remember one student coming to me at the end of flat classroom and saying:

“Mrs. Vicki, PLEASE REBLOCK FACEBOOK. It is such a distraction and I cannot get anything done.”

I reiterate the points I made in the Educational Networking blog post and also what we're doing to students by making them give up their digital memories when we force business or school upon their embedded social network. (Read Freddie's Two Faced Future.)

The answer to effective digital citizenship and Social Networking Netiquette is not forcing ourselves into Facebook, it is in creating separate, safe places where we can work with students to improve their skills and safety. I think these places should be private initially so that younger students can be brought into them.

Then, they can safely move into our online world sometime in their teenage years already having an arsenal of knowledge to keep them safe.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

heyjude February 3, 2008 - 5:40 am

Your are right Vicki, we have a great responsibility in showing the most effective ways for living and learning in a networked world. I now work in a boarding school, that has an interesting solution for managing Facebook, Myspace and other social networking places. They are automatically blocked in class time, and available for the boys to use out of class hours. Staff on the other hand, have access at all times. I quite like how this is working.

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