I attended the RCET (Regional Consortium for Education and Technology) conference in Springfield on Wednesday, March 3.
A major focus of the workshops was responsible use of social networking in a school environment.
Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging, etc poise a quandry for education as it is difficult to balance responsible use and access while striving to keep students insulated from potential inappropriate materials and the distractions that access to these sites can cause.
Reasonable attempts to keep inappropriate material out of the school is required by the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Inappropriate material doesn't seem to be a major problems on services such as Twitter and Facebook, especially since more and more potential employers are routinely reviewing the contents of the accounts of applicants. But allowing student access to such sites at school can provide another potential distraction.
The potential distraction and classroom management problems that arise from this access is being accepted at Nixa schools. Nixa allows teachers to have facebook sites and Twitter accounts for school use. They particularily like to utilize Twitter for sports, club and other activity sponsors to announce information for participants and parents. For instance, when a group such as the Nixa band is traveling back home from an event, the director texts an expected arrival time to his Twitter account so parents know when to meet their students.
El Dorado teachers have a similar opportunity to start using some social networking for communication with students and parents. This site, http://www.blogger.com/, is open to users in the school. The site also allows members to post messages to the site via their cell phone by texting. In a later post, I will put the step-by-step instructions on how to initiate a blog site on blogger.