Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership
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!