Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership

“Sext” messages that self-destruct & other Ed Admin troubles

I teach graduate students in educational administration, and lately I’ve been hearing more stories along the lines of “you wouldn’t believe what my kids did using social media today.” They aren’t alone. Peck and Mullen had a recent article in the Journal of School Public Relations describing how many administrators are caught off guard by students’ ability to post images and videos in ways that complicate student discipline, care for students’ well-being, and a school’s public image.

Troubles for School Leaders. At one end of the spectrum, mobile devices make it easier for students to snap and share test questions/answers before the period is even over. More disconcerting are stories about students intentionally “sexting” or taking candid locker room photos. These might be shared (without the subject’s consent) not only between devices, but also with world (e.g., via Twitter).

Administrators find themselves not only having to talk to students about the appropriate use of technology, but also trying to track down the “culprits.” Who gets punished a phone is left at a lunch table, and table of kids tweet something embarrassing without the owner’s consent? When does this become bullying? What if the pictures involve youngsters who didn’t consent and aren’t even known to the school? This stuff is against the law and comes with real victims.

Even crazier, what if an app allows pictures to be viewed, then “self-destruct” like in Mission Impossible?

What to do? Right now, a lot of administrators are figuring out what to do as they go along. Banning the devices won’t solve the problem. This is an issue that touches upon school culture, digital citizenship, and parent-school relationships. In fact, hat tip to @Ms_Cerda for sending along this set of tips for parents. A huge step is definitely going to be helping parents realize what’s currently possible and happening.

Any other specific help? Until more knowledge and policies are shared, we’re all reinventing the wheel. I’d like to collect ideas and opinions about what schools should do. Please share!


3 comments on ““Sext” messages that self-destruct & other Ed Admin troubles

  1. Kate Marinangeli
    March 13, 2013

    I’m interested to see how all of this develops as well. I am currently a high school social studies teacher and this year our school as switched to a BYOD policy and with that has come widespread cheating–like we’ve never seen it before. I am also about to finish graduate school to be an administrator and have been thinking through this idea as well. Many teachers at my school have begun to treat test days like the ACT where phones are to be turned off or in some cases turn in until tests are complete. The addresses only one of the many new issues that have arisen with the wide variety of issues that these BYOD policies carry with them.

  2. vinnycho
    March 17, 2013

    Thanks for the comments, Kate! I’ve kept thinking about this and even made the drawing up of good acceptable use policies (AUPs) a topic in my courses. You’re right that BYOD comes along with a host of challenges, but I also hope that your school and district thinks more broadly to the school culture issues and learning opportunities for students about how to be more savvy about digital citizenship that these technologies present.

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2013 by and tagged , .