RE: Unplugging Edmodo

Posted on: February 6, 2011

In response to Unplugging Edmodo

I must say that I was sad to see this post in our readings this week.  The unplugging of Edmodo is yet another strike against the benefits of social networking on learning due to the inability to get past the inherent downsides that will always plague constant communication.  This follows on the heels of the unfortunate blocking of such websites in my district as well.  Last year I bragged to my CTER classmates how my district didn’t block such things, understood times were changing….and then my students and I were slapped in the face with a bright red BLOCKED BY YOUR ORGANIZATION screen when we tried to access YouTube.

So why are we unplugging these sites?

Adults are afraid of change, and that’s what most of these issues with social networking boil down to.  Can and will students say inappropriate things to each other via social networks?  Of course!  Just as they do it daily in the classroom; yet we know how to deal with that.  We immediately tell them it’s inappropriate – perhaps send them to the dean or call their parents.  So why is it so scary on a social network?

The answer is because it is outside of our comfort zone.  When a student acts out in a classroom, we remove them.  If they pull up something inappropriate on a website, we block them.  But if the student is at home and the web is a necessary part of the instruction, how do we remove or block the inappropriate behavior?  We can’t.  We have to deal with it, and address it.  Addressing it means we have to have awkward conversations about the consequences of actions, the hurtful effects of certain remarks, or the possible permanent damage to a reputation.  We will need to constantly monitor students beyond the 50 minutes they are in our classroom, educate their parents about the capabilities, benefits, and dangers of online interactions.  It will take time, energy, and open and constant communication between teachers, administrators, and parents.

So why go through all of that trouble of educating on appropriate usage when it’s easier just to block it all and pretend it’s just a fad?  What benefits could possibly be had by allowing students to use social networks to deepen their learning and help them become better digital citizens?  There’s no way social networking is a key tool for the future of education.  After all, 250 million people on Facebook is inconsequential, right?

(And in case you missed the sarcasm in my last statement and actually agree with it, please read The Case for Social Media in Schools)

5 Responses to "RE: Unplugging Edmodo"

Of course! Just as they do it daily in the classroom; yet we know how to deal with that. We immediately tell them it’s inappropriate – perhaps send them to the dean or call their parents.

I love this quote, Andrea, as it is the essence of how I believe we need to handle social media in the early years. Children will be children, they make foolish choices at times, and they will be much better prepared to handle to open gate of social media in later years if we help them with this early on in the process. If they curse on the playground, we write them up and they have a behavior report. Same thing online… except it follows with an additional discussion on how in our cut-paste-copy-email-forward world once you post you’ve lost control of your content.

In our rounds of 80-90 students, I have several 3rd grades on Facebook, over 20 4th graders, and between 50-80% of the 5th grade class. It’s startling to hear things said like “these are adult privileges, and not for children”, when the start reality is that they are ALREADY THERE. Rather like the “rock and roll” concept of the ’50’s, this too is widely accepted by much of the world, as your satiric statistics suggest. Will we meet them there, or leave them to figure it out on their own? I hope we do the latter, since it is their future and our digital world that is at stake.

Oh, and to clarify, when I say “I have” these students on Facebook, I do not mean that they do this in class with me, or that I had anything to do with their presence in that medium. What I am reporting is the fact that those students are in my class, and have already created those accounts at home. They do not access them at school. (Duh- can you say blocked?) Just sayin’… 🙂

That’s amazing about the number of elementary students on Facebook. Most of my high school students are, but I didn’t realize that it started that young now. I wonder how many of their parents know about these accounts?

Well, prior to our ‘incident’, I would have said most parents know. They tend to have parents and older siblings as friends. However, I’m not sure the parents know that the kids can put them in a ‘box’ on Facebook, so the parent doesn’t see everything. I had a student telling me on Friday that his favorite Chrome extension was “Panic Button”- basically a ‘boss button’ which closes all your open tabs, and replaces them with a preset one. Which means kid can do whatever, hit the button when mom/dad come around, effectively hiding their stuff. And if they’re deleting cookies/history… well, mom and dad may never know. Scary thought. (We have our router turned on to track history, so that they my kiddos, were they to misuse the tech, couldn’t delete their trail…. or at least, not as easily.)

[…] article also made me think about RE: Unplugging Edmodo: Andrea wrote, “We will need to constantly monitor students beyond the 50 minutes they are in […]

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