What is the Chicago School Board Saying to Parents and Teachers By Banning Facebook and Twitter?

by olive on August 24, 2009


On August 10th, Alexander Russo in his Chicago Now: District 299 Chicago Schools Blog discussed The Chicago Public Schools new “Network and Computer Resources” policy that bans teachers from using Facebook and Twitter.  The policy is a good example of how organizations aren’t maximizing Social Media so we thought we’d point out this case study.

The Chicago Public Schools ban of Facebook and Twitter brings to light to the following points:

  • Teachers will always be challeged for ways to connect with their students.
  • Texting and social networking sites are a way of life for the younger generations.
  • Teachers have an opportunity to really connect with students and parents by embracing the tools that kids/parents are already using.
  • The School Board can still demonstrate being more forward thinking by using modern tools and gain more public support by revising this policy.
  • Sites like Twitter and Facebook are tools that parents and students are already using. By utilizing these tools in the classroom, the school system could easily improve the quality of education.

Policy Brought on Due to Lack of Training, Lack of Understanding and Fear?

According to the policy, “to ensure the Board’s information technology and information assets are managed so as to maximize their efficient and secure use.”

However, is this policy a security measure or a response to technology that they don’t understand?  The blog’s author, Alexander Russo, believes that “there has been literally zero training available – for students or staff – for any of these Collaboration Systems they reference.” The policy defines ‘Collaboration Systems’: “calendaring, message/conference boards, blogs, text chat/instant messaging, video conferencing, websites and podcasting.” That encompasses all of social media. If there has been no training on these ‘Collaboration Systems’, then what are they basing their decision to ban these sites on? A fear of that which they don’t understand?

Impact on Teachers and Morale?

Also, by banning these tools in the classroom, what message does this send to the teachers? One teacher was quoted in the blog post saying:

“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.”

We agree.

What’s In This For YOU?

How does the example of the Chicago Public Schools apply to your organization? If your company bans Facebook and Twitter from your employees, what message are you sending? Look for our upcoming posts on this topic.  Coming soon.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Owen Larson 08.24.09 at 7:14 pm

So let’s compare, shall we? We have a 14 year old who started High School a week or so ago. My wife and I are in awe of the technology the school puts to use in an effort to keep parents informed. They use an online members-only website for teachers to post not only grades (which are usually available within 24 hours) but assignments (should the student need re-clarification when they get home). Our daughter’s instructors have provided us with their home phone numbers and cell numbers with instructions to call them up until 10pm if there is anything needed by the student. They encourage email (like crazy!) – “Email us with questions, comments, suggestions, etc. We want to know what you know.” is the request from the teachers and the administration. The list goes on, but I’ll stop here for now. Bottom line? 93% of the graduates from this school not only go on to College, they receive 90% scholarships to do it. We need to embrace technology and use it for advantage. It sounds like to me, from the teachers comments, they are not exaclty pleased with this mandate. From what I have gathered from our own school, the implementaion of superior communciation began at the top. It would appear the reverse has happened for Chicago Public Schools.

Global Patriot 08.25.09 at 7:28 am

When communication is limited, the learning process is often compromised. Yes, there’s a time and place, as one needs to concentrate on the message at hand, but an all out ban on any form of human interaction has never been proven effective, and is, in fact, counterproductive.
.-= Global Patriot´s last blog ..Can Social Media Change Global Consciousness? =-.

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