This past October, Ito spoke at the New School’s biennial conference series, The Politics of Digital Culture. In her talk, “Learning with Social and Mobile Media: The Positive Potential of Peer Pressure and Messing Around Online”, she examines the diversity of youth experience with new media and how it relates to questions of equity, access, and learning opportunities.
“We can debate outcomes of engagement all we want, but the thing that’s really important, I think, to have on the public agenda is really the question of ‘Who is getting access to the kinds of experiences that are productive and engaging, and who is not?’ And what are the factors contributing to that?”
I’d like to toss out a few general scenarios for you all to consider:
- Students create and organize their own Facebook group for a specific class; the classroom teacher is invited to participate. Should the teacher be the admin of the group, merely a member, or even a participant? And whether or not the teacher is part of the student created class group, should parents be admitted to the group?
- A teacher creates and organizes a class/course Facebook group for students and is the group admin. Parents request to join the group—should they be admitted?
- If a teacher is posting content to a student organized Facebook class group, such as an informal discussion question that is not a graded assignment, is the teacher obligated to cross-post that discussion on the “official” course page?
- If a teacher posts class content (as a member, not an admin) on a student organized Facebook class group, is it reasonable for a parent to assume that once that teacher posts class content in that space, “he/she has changed the nature of the page, and parents should have access”?
- Is it reasonable for parents to equate a teacher moderating or participating in a student course Facebook group with “friending” students?
These scenarios could also be applied to those who may be using circles in Google Plus, Google Groups, or other similar networks. The need for students to have a space they feel they can share information and express themselves openly is an important one; at the same time, transparent structures that encourage and allow for parental participation and involvement are also important. How do we negotiate these tensions while respecting the needs of both teens and parents, particularly when the communication medium is one like Facebook where students gravitate and dwell?
What are your thoughts on these questions? Does your district have any formal policies for teachers in place about the use of social networks like Facebook whether the network is administered by the teacher or not? If you’re utilizing Facebook or comparable social network tools for learning and/or class conversation, what policies or protocols do you observe?