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In typical fashion of those that don’t understand something the Administration of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has submitted to the Board a change in the “Standards of Professional Conduct” to ban the use of “Social Networking” sites by staff and teachers. The Board had an initial vote to approve the changes with only two nays to the following changes:

Teachers, school administrators and all other employees shall refrain from communication with WS/FCS students using, through, by and/or on social networking sites, including but not limited to and Facebook. Teachers, school administrators and all other employees shall not list WS/FCS students as “Friends” on social networking sites, unless the student is the employee’s child, grandchild, sibling, cousin, niece or nephew.

A “social networking site” primarily focuses on building on-line communities of people who share interest and activates or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most are internet based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as email and instant messaging services.

During the Board meeting the rule change was put forth as a needed because using sites such as Facebook allow teachers to communicate with students without the ability of the Administration to monitor that communication. This of course makes no sense as stated by Board Member Buddy Collins since the current rules do allow for written, oral, telephone and even text messages as a means to communicate with students and none of those are monitored. Mr. Collins goes on to further point out that creation of such a rule shouldn’t be needed as long as the hiring process for staff was administered correctly. In other words this is not a technology problem but a Human Resource problem, something we have made comment on with businesses in the past. The need to monitor Internet use, except in cases of compliance, is not a technology problem, it’s an HR problem.

In stark contrast to the provision put forth by the Superintendant to ban the use of technology other school systems are looking for ways to expand the use of the Internet. In Assistant Editor Maya Prabhu quotes Jared Stein, director of instructional design services at Utah Valley University:

"I believe that educators should keep a clear line separating educational relationships from social relationships," he said. "As long as the use of the tool is related to learning, education, or professional development, I don’t see it as being a problem."

Maybe even more to the point is this article in

But the rewards are worth it, he says, estimating that online school-based communities will multiply rapidly in the coming year. "You see how motivated the kids are," he adds. "Here you were, banging your head getting students to write. Then you give them a blog, and now you just can’t get them to stop."

And lastly citing Mary Madden of Pew Internet, an American think-tank dedicated to studying the social impacts of technology this post at says it all:

“The fact that high-school teachers and college professors are starting to use these tools makes sense,” says Mary Madden, senior research analysts at Pew Internet, an American think-tank dedicated to studying the social impacts of technology. Teachers “are able to leverage a tool students already use instead of asking them to learn how to use a separate application,”

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