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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

A week ago I sat in [a] meeting about the security of Facebook. Within less than a minute the presenter was in an account of my account and just a few more minutes was in some of my friends’ accounts posted on my page, viewing and commenting on items that should be secure.  I am a teacher and was attending the meeting for just the purpose of including the use of Facebook within my classroom instruction. Not now!!  Until it becomes more secure we should not use it as a form of instruction or communication within the classroom environment.

Darrell A. Horn

I’d sure like to be able to safely use Facebook for my H.S. students.
As we are desperately trying to learn a second language, ties with native speakers could prove invaluable.

Jeffrey Merzbacher, M.Ed.

21st-century skills

In “Survey reveals school leaders’ opinions on 21st-century skills,” we asked readers if federal and state governments should be responsible for finding solutions to teaching and assessing 21st-century skills. We also invited readers to share the 21st-century skills they think are most important for students to learn.

In The Tablet PC Education Blog, Bob Heiny, a retired professor, responded:

Educators receive pay for making sure that students learn at least whatever the state says they should learn. Educators know how to do this. They prepared and signed a teaching contract to do so. They can and should resolve problems they encounter in schooling…Not all resolutions will occur within a school building (such as with online learning and in community college auto tech shop), just as most learning has always and will likely continue to occur outside of PK12 schools and curricula.

If any educator cannot increase learning in whatever the learning condition they’re assigned, they should resign in order not to hurt the learning rate of more students. That’s an ethical resolution to their predicament.

Heiny continued:

The most important skill for students to learn in school and any time is how to learn efficiently with and without teachers, what the most informed people in the world know, and whether or not any student is interested in learning any school subjects.

For more of Heiny’s thoughts, visit his blog.

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