Amidst the deluge of posts I’ve been trying to wade through in the past few days is this gem by Vicki Davis, “Spies Like Us“, in which she discusses the implications of evermore wireless and mobile technologies, and what schools should be doing to be better prepared for the influx of mobile devices. As Davis states, banning the devices is not the answer, as students will find ways around that, as the cell phone controversy in New York City has shown.
Davis proposes that schools:
- update acceptable use policies;
- come to an understanding that the new school hours are 24/7;
- understand the importance of technology education including ethics;
- understand that blocking doesn’t protect your school from the technology and its uses;
- understand that information does not travel in straight lines.
Very well said, and I would like to add the following:
6. understand that the new school “day” goes beyond the brick and mortar of the school building. School has become much more of a process than a place (to go along with #2). This also has implications for school policies, because where do you draw the line as far as school authorities being able to interfere with what kids do outside of school? An excerpt of an article of mine that will be published in Innovate this spring:
Because the online world and new technologies are blurring boundaries between school and the rest of the world, educational institutions are debating where to draw the line when it comes to regulating student use of the Internet. Many schools now have policies that hold students responsible for their online actions outside of school, and more and more students are being punished for what they post on the Internet. For example, in North Carolina, a student was suspended for 10 days for posting an altered picture of his school’s assistant principal on MySpace (Student Press Law Center, 2005).
These developments have raised First Amendment and free speech issues for students. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that high school students have First Amendment rights at school, but speech that “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is … not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech,” with the burden of proof on schools (U.S. Supreme Court, 1969). School administrators now argue that the “substantial disruption” standard from the Tinker decision should apply to what students do outside of school, including online. Civil liberties attorneys have countered by saying that what students do and say outside of school should be the parents’ responsibility, and that schools are overstepping their boundaries, especially when students are critical of the schools they attend.
I wholeheartedly agree that blocking or banning is not the answer. Not only are those attempts futile ones in many cases, but we lose the opportunities that we have to teach students about the ethics of technology use, which, like Davis writes, is another critical component of a technology education for kids. In fact, many state and national standards include standards on ethics, for example ISTE’s:
- Students understand the ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.
- Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
- Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity. (ISTE, 2005).
In fact, in ISTE’s proposed new technology standards for students, as blogged about by Julie Lindsay, ethics will take on an even more prominent role, as part of a section called “Digital Citizenship”. And by the way, I agree with Julie in that the standards, including the ethical ones, should be given a more global “flavor”.
As I said, great post by Vicki Davis; as far as I’m concerned it should be required reading for all teachers, administrators, and parents (and kids too)…