Thursday, March 12, 2009

Phones, Cameras and Facebook.

Not so long ago, the fight club issue was raised with kids after school organising fights and filming them. The infamy caused through posting these film grabs on u-tube and the damage to local schools needs to be acknowledged. It took these incidents to change the current policy (or perhaps enforce an existing one?) on mobile phone use in schools.

When mobile phones were first allowed on campus my initial thoughts were that this was a bad idea. It has proven true with sms bullying, filming of teachers and posting them on the Internet, sms'ing during class, loss and theft of phones and the like. Teachers spend a portion of each day confiscating phones and returning them, facing a barrage of abuse and pleading from students.

Information technology and personal technologies have other negative influences. The insular antisocial behaviour such as being constantly on an IPod cannot be measured. In many cases it is a way of managing a lone student (allowing them the dignity of choosing to be on their own) rather than facing the real issue of an isolate in the playground and assisting with social integration. The lone student is often subject to the worst kinds of bullying in the form of exclusion and schools must respond to this kind of treatment or face the extreme measures taken by lonely students in other areas of the world.

Facebook is another tool that causes concern. I started my own Facebook page and have had 'friend' requests from students. I declined these obviously, as a teacher is not a friend. A friend has to face issues that a teacher does not and vice-versa. To transcend this relationship is fraught with danger. Yet I had to think - am I being old fashioned? Has friendship been redefined by Facebook and become some sort of watered down acquaintance? Could it be a way of hearing about their successes and failures post school? Being conservative by nature, my original position stands.. as a male teacher, I don't think you can be too careful - watered down friendship or not.. it crosses the line.

The Internet itself in general is the great time-waster. Setting firm guidelines is required to keep students on task and maintaining standards of behaviour requires strong penalties. Yet the greatest penalty (denial of Internet) is often removed as an option as multiple classes require students to use the Internet and the same student performs the same misdemeanors in each class as they know the penalties are light.

Technology is a wonderful thing but to use it effectively is a skill. I am not sure education institutions have spent the time to master this skill and I would like to see some real evidence of where and when it is used to improve results of students.

1 comment:

  1. "Technology is a wonderful thing but to use it effectively is a skill."

    - true! Disciplining oneself is a very difficult task and it takes a skill to succeed.


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