The National Association of Secondary School Principals have been trying to make sense of the whirlwind that is Social and Mobile Technologies.
They have just released a position statement, summarizing their thoughts on the matter … and it is surprisingly good!
They actively encourage schools to accept smartphones, and social networking as part their educational provision, and offer a range of guidelines and advice to different levels of practitioner.In the report, they deal head on with the challenges:
The rapid growth in the use of social media and mobile devices has created both a crisis and an opportunity for school leaders. Unfortunately, many principals first became aware of social technologies under unpleasant circumstances, such as conflicts stemming from social media exchanges. And school leaders would often be paralyzed by cyberbullying and sexting incidents for which guidance was often inadequate and contradictory. It's no wonder that school leaders responded by attempting to eliminate the use of mobile and social media in schools.
As well as the opportunities:
Yet as mobile and social technologies become ubiquitous, attempts to block them are increasingly ineffective. For example, in schools that prohibit cell phones, 54% of students still report sending texts during the school day (Lenhart, 2010). And it's the rare student who can't do an end run around Internet filters with a simple proxy server. More importantly, as mobile devices become more powerful and more affordable, their potential for enhancing student learning has come into clearer focus. Social networking sites provide platforms for student creativity by enabling them to design projects using words, music, photos, and videos. In recent years, there has been explosive growth in students creating, manipulating, and sharing content online (National School Boards Association, 2007). Recognizing the educational value of encouraging such behaviors, many school leaders have shifted their energies from limiting the use of these technologies to limiting their abuse.
They propose some solid guiding principles, which any enlightened teacher would share:
- Education should prepare students to be active, constructive participants in a global society.
- Technology-enhanced instruction has the capacity to engage students deeply in their work, connect them with countless resources, and allow them to collaborate across time and space.
- Schools should provide a student-centered, personalized, and customized experience for all students—a fundamental tenet of the Breaking Ranks school improvement framework.
- Schools should advocate and model values that are essential in a civil and democratic society.
- Learning can take place only when students feel free from violence and harassment.
- Schools should offer meaningful roles in decision making to students to promote student learning and an atmosphere of participation, responsibility, and ownership.
And then offer specific suggestions for different leaders in education.
In a statement released to coincide with their paper, executive director, Gerald N. Tirozzi, added that blocking technologies like smart phones and social networking sites takes education in the wrong direction.
"For years, the conversation about mobile and social technology in schools has revolved around how to block it, but it's becoming increasingly clear that simply blocking such technologies does students a disservice. An education that fails to account for the responsible use of mobile devices and social networks prepares students for our past, but not for their future."