Readers weigh in on Facebook in school, 21st-century skills

Pencil_Computer_ShutterstockRecent eSchool News stories inspired readers to add their thoughts to important ed-tech issues and events. Here, we’ve assembled the latest reader comments to keep you up to date on what people are saying.

Facebook Groups

An Oct. 8 story, “Facebook ‘Groups’ could boost privacy collaboration,” prompted many reader comments and discussion. In the story, Assistant Editor Jenna Zwang explored the potential of Facebook’s new ‘Groups’ feature to boost student collaboration and let users have more control over privacy.

We asked readers for their opinions and thoughts on the feature and whether more schools might allow access to Facebook so that students can use the Groups feature for classroom collaboration.

Here’s what eSchool News readers had to say:

Students can already work collaboratively on Moodle and on Google–Google Docs, Slideshow, etc. What the kids post on Facebook is not conducive to the kind of learning we need in the 21st century.  The Google suite has the right idea.  And Moodle has been around for quite a while…their journaling module is an excellent way for students to collaborate.

Jeanne Sbardellati
Las Virgenes Unified School District

I’m a retired social studies teacher (32 years in the classroom) who used technology in classes like The Electronic Model Congress the last decade or so of my teaching career. I followed that up with several years of supporting my local school district’s internal network, internet connection, computers, and peripherals. I start this way to indicate that I am in NO way anti-technology. (In my TEMC class, if I had a substitute teacher all I had to do is tell them to take attendance and “get out of the way” so the kids could run the class. I NEVER had a bad report on that class and I often had subs who were, in their own words, flabbergasted by the kids.)

In the current situation, where a school district has to accept responsibility for student interactions (real and virtual) it would be foolhardy, in my opinion, to open up social media like Facebook to use within a district for the pure and simple reason that there are inadequate mechanisms and funding to monitor cyber-bullying.

I love the idea of student collaboration and student-teacher collaboration on classroom projects. My wife, who has 902 level certification as a school librarian…took a number of online courses that she felt were more educational than actual classroom experiences. She feels this way for two primary reasons: 1. It gave every student an obligation to weigh in on every project in a meaningful way (if they wanted credit for the class) so nobody was excluded or able to hide in the weeds and slide; and 2. Everyone had an opportunity to weigh in no matter how insecure or shy they were and many of her fellow students (my wife is NOT shy) felt that they learned more and grew more as a result. Both factors meant that she, as well as the other students, received the benefit of inputs they would otherwise have missed. This is important.

Either the society has to find a balance between “protecting” kids and educating them or school districts have to be given the resources to do the monitoring that they will be held accountable for in the event of a tragedy.

For what it’s worth,

Ed Busby
Retired teacher
Park Falls, Wisconsin

Laura Ascione
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