Time to push 'reboot' on school tech policies

The most effective schools govern from a place of trust, and the least effective from a place of fear. Nowhere is this clearer than in schools’ approach to the use of technology, where the widening gap between “haves” and “have-nots” is being worsened by policies that lock away access to Gmail, YouTube and other learning resources students use comfortably and safely everywhere except school.

In this issue of the Report, we offer a glimpse of “the rest of the story,” in which technology-savvy teachers like Colorado’s Carrie Faust harness the power of Twitter as a messaging service capable of reaching student journalists instantly in the newsroom, at the football stadium, or in their living rooms.

Stereotypes and phobias about online predators and “cyberbullies” are prompting rash, one-size-fits-all technology restrictions in schools. Student journalists – for whom 21st century communication tools are a luxury, not a necessity – are at best an afterthought, if they are thought of at all.

That is why the SPLC lent its support to the newly issued report, “Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media” from the Consortium for School Networking. “Making Progress” recommends pushing “reboot” on heavy-handed school technology bans, moving from a mindset of “acceptable use policies” to one of “responsible use policies.”

At the SPLC, we believe it’s futile for educators to hold back the ocean. It’s time we started giving swimming lessons instead.

Frank LoMonte, executive director

reports, Spring 2012