I listened to the following media segment on the way in to work this week. All week long NPR has been exploring kids and technology with a focus on raising digital natives. This piece, For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship, examined the use of iPads in schools and the omnipresent concerns about providing secure search parameters for students. The issue of students circumventing profiles as part of the LA School District iPad initiative has raised very public concerns over the use of iPads or even tech in school and has caused the LA School District to slow down the planned roll-out.
I think the best part of the NPR piece is a conversation between a student and his grandmother. The grandson and grandmother talk about Facebook. The grandmother is skeptical about the use of Facebook mostly as a result of what she has heard. In contrast, the grandson shares why Facebook is a valuable resource for learning. What resonated with me is that a conversation transpired. Individuals were allowed to have conversation about social networking. As opposed to banning technology or as most commonly seen restricting the use of social networking platforms, an open exchange developed.
If there are concerns about what students could / can access I'm not sure what is gained from restricting access. This simple but important exchange between family members represents the types of conversations we hope students have with teachers. Where better to mentor students on ethical uses than in our classrooms. This can only occur in an open system where authentic and spontaneous issues regarding digital citizenship rise to the surface.