The internet isn’t as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school.
No, that’s not me talking. That’s one recommendation from the National School Boards Association!
Their conclusion is drawn from a study (pdf) recently released by the organization that found a big disconnect between the perceived problems with students using social networking sites and reality.
An example of the findings:
Only 20% said they’d seen “inappropriate” pictures on social networking sites in the last 3 months. (And only 11% of parents concur, even for the last 6 months.) Only 18% of the students said they’d seen “inappropriate” language, and just 7% reported they’d been “cyberbullied,” or asked about their personal identity on a social networking site.
However, as I’ve said before when it comes to studies, surveys and polls, look at who is paying the bills.
In this case it’s Microsoft, NewsCorp (parent company of MySpace) and Verizon. Certainly none of them have a stake in any of this. :-)
But putting that aside, positive statements about the read/write web coming from an organization representing many of the groups that set policy for schools could be a very good thing.
At the very least, maybe this can trigger a serious discussion between teachers, administrators, students, and parents about the possible instructional use of a wide range of communications tools.
Instead of the over-hyped, news-at-11, Dateline/tabloid stories that politicians love and that seem to crowd out other rational conversation.
As the study notes, it’s still important to teach students about safely and responsibly working online.
But, the report continues, “students may learn these lessons better while they’re actually using social networking tools”.