Magazine article Technology & Learning

Talk to the Hand: The Facebook Debate Continues

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Talk to the Hand: The Facebook Debate Continues

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Last month, we made a conscious decision to block Facebook from being accessed on our network. Being a K-12 public school district, I personally didn't feel that it was in the best interest of our students to allow them to access a site that, while arguably brimming with educational potential, is most often used for nothing more than recreational interaction among participants.

Of course, it's not that play is bad. Rather, it's a matter of fighting for balance and the cognitive attention of our students. For when Facebook hasn't been blocked in our schools, students have tended to spend inordinate amounts of time on the site--forming gangs, playing cards, writing on walls, and poking each other (ah, just like high school). Or am I wrong?

Am I alone in thinking that Facebook is roughly 98% play + 2% academics when it comes to unchecked use by today's "typical" teenager? And tell me: What percentage of teachers can be trusted to ensure that Facebook is actually used by their students for legitimate learning?

Glorified baby-sitter? Anytime. Sensible and essential pedagogical tool? Well, that depends on the teacher.

Interestingly enough, this decision to (gulp) block Facebook was made just days prior to the release of a study conducted by a group of researchers whose focus was on the ethical issues inherent in the educational utilization of social networking (Moral Spaces in MySpace, Foulger, Ewbank, Kay, Popp, & Carter, 2009, available through iste. …

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