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Social Media Ban for CPS Teachers

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I'm a little late on this, I know, but in catching up with the ed-tech blogs I read after being on vacation for a couple of weeks, I came across this post on Alexander Russo's District 299: The Chicago Schools Blog. Apparently Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, has approved a new e-mail policy that prohibits teachers from contacting students through cellphones, non-CPS e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs and Web sites created off the CPS network.

One teacher's reaction is posted in the blog entry, and judging from the comments that follow, many tech-savvy teachers in CPS are not happy about this new development. Here's an excerpt from the teacher's response:

The biggest frustration is that on the technology front the CPS Network is totally inadequate. The message to me is strong and clear - innovative, tech savvy teachers should look elsewhere for employment. ... I guess this means that the interactive website I've spent this summer designing for my students with open-source WordPress is off limits. I can't share video we create on our own. I can't ask them to compare and contrast two of our own videos, or one of our videos with someone else's, or two videos from elsewhere. I can't solicit student responses on core content.

We've talked a lot here on the Digital Education blog about limits being placed on what students can do on school networks, but not as much about the constraints placed on teachers. While I do think that this may be an extreme example, other school districts are likely facing similar growing pains as they attempt to navigate new developments in a Web 2.0 world.

Does your school have policies in place regarding student/teacher contact over the Internet? If so, what are they? Do you think the rules CPS has enacted will help protect students and teachers from potential problems, or do you think they will hinder teachers' instruction?

5 Comments

This is a typical knee jerk reaction on the part of the bloated and out of touch bureaucracy that is CPS. Rather than focusing on whether or not technology tools are utilized in appropriate, ethical ways to enhance the education experiences of youth, the CPS policy bans, out of fear, entire classes of technology tools regardless of how they might properly be used.

Well, here's a newsflash for CPS: computers and technology are a part of 21st century America. Technology is something that youth embrace but something from which CPS recoils. Students need and deserve help navigating their way through technology just as they need guidance in other parts of their education lives.

CPS is like a parent who is too afraid to have real, meaningful conversations with children about the world in which they live. And so, to "protect the children", that scared parent hides the offending parts of reality in the closet. When those children find what is hidden in the closet, as they inevitably will, they are entirely unprepared and ill equipped to deal with it.

CPS technology restrictions represent a gross misunderstanding of 21st century education and a massive failing of Chicago's responsibility to address the education and career needs of young people.

I do not doubt anything in the article about raising grades except for the statement "two F's she issued were entered into a computer, which automatically increased the child's special ed minutes from 200 to 600 a week"

Now that is ridiculous and unbelievable. There is process that MUST be followed to change a student's Individual Educational Program IEP and it does not involve a computer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your writer truly needs to check his facts .

Take a look at this site. It has numerous educational needs covered and generates revenue for schools at the same time. It has anonymity but allows each school full admin and has an LMS built in. All at no cost to the schools.

Its amazing to look at this site because it meets everyone's needs about the education.

I wonder how long educational leaders are going to hide from the fact that social media is not only here to stay, but can actually help tremendously in the teaching and learning process. For example, facebook has come up with apps that help teachers communicate with students and teacher-specific platforms like fatclass.com help educators collaborate and communicate with students a safe and productive way. On the issue of security and safety, one could even argue that web 2.0 is a more transparent process than anything that has come before. I mean, how much could/would you possibly get away with? Seriously, educators have to start speaking up about this and developing some sort of guidelines, workable code of ethics, etc.

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