Schools and Facebook: Moving Too Fast, or Not Fast Enough?
Schools can draw a line in the sand, with zero tolerance rules written into school handbooks, or they can shift with the changing sands of social networking and utilize social networking and Facebook to enhance teaching and learning.
by Matt Levinson Continued from page 1
May 1, 2009
The virtue of the online classroom is that it does not require classroom walls. Learning goes on 24/7 and with the right design students will want to spend their time outside of school collaborating and adding content to class Facebook pages, for example. The teacher who created the 20th century China assignment shared that her students added to their class created Facebook pages at every hour of the day and night.
Motivation skyrocketed and learning grew more authentic with real time audience.
The virtue of the online classroom is that it does not require classroom walls. Learning goes on 24/7 and with the right design students will want to spend their time outside of school collaborating and adding content to class Facebook pages, for example.
Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of Make Magazine, has likened schools of the future to a wild ecosystem. Students are growing up in a jungle, he argues, and schools need to figure out how to make sense of the “wild.” One productive way to do this is to develop a giant smart grid to disseminate information and facilitate communication through student developed Facebook pages, where key educational interests and accomplishments are posted and shared. Current project work can then grow more quickly and deeply with collaboration across states, countries, and continents, Dale explains. One key question schools need to begin to ask is, what is the enrollment at the school that’s beyond school walls.
We live in a "flat" world as Thomas Friedman has argued. This "flatness" must extend into the field of education. The old hierarchical model of education needs to be dismantled in favor of cross platform teaching and learning. President Obama has rewired government and schools need to seize the moment. We can't wait and more importantly, kids can't wait. Now is the time for full-scale reconsideration of instructional delivery with the latest technology tools. As the recently released MacArthur Foundation study on digital youth stated: “they (kids) are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults […] to stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media.”
The old hierarchical model of education needs to be dismantled in favor of cross platform teaching and learning.
Of course, social networking and Facebook do not come without certain caveats. Schools are increasingly trapped in a Gordian knot with the onslaught of the Facebook age. The boundaries between home and school are so twisted that school administrators, parents, and students find themselves caught in the snarl. To untangle this knot, all three groups need to come together and communicate about fair use. The recent news of Katherine Evans and her lawsuit against Pembroke Pines Charter High School (New York Times, February 8, 2009) highlight the challenges of untying this knot. Suspended from school for creating a Facebook page aimed at venting frustration at the actions of her high school English teacher, the student, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has sounded the clarion call of first amendment violations. The school, on the other hand, crouches under the desk of its legal counsel. This problem will only grow worse, unless all parties can create an agreement for fair play at home and in school. Kids will not cease posting on Facebook and the faster schools and parents can grasp that reality, the healthier the lives of students will be.
A graduate of Teachers' College, Columbia University, Matt Levinson is the assistant director and head of the middle school at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, California. Prior to moving into school administration, he taught middle and upper school history for fourteen years at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey.