Anne Arundel considers lifting classroom ban on social media
Feb 02, 2013 (The Capital - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Teachers and students may have something new they can "like" about the Anne Arundel County school board.
On Wednesday, the Board of Education will get a first look at two proposed policies that would end a ban on Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the classroom.
"We've been hearing the requests from teachers and students alike," school spokeswoman Maneka Monk said. "This is the first step in making it possible."
The policies tackle the appropriate use social media for students and teachers. While school officials recognize the importance the medium plays in providing open communication, they still have concerns about how to bring it into the curriculum effectively.
Monk said the policy is just one step in a long process to create guidelines and implement them into schools.
"We are hoping things will be finished by the start of next year," she said. "For now, we are still working out the details."
For sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be used appropriately, school officials will only provide access "solely for instructional purposes," under a draft of the policy. Students who are caught misusing social media, could be reported to the Office of Safe and Orderly Schools by school administrators.
The policy also prohibits the communication of students and teachers, except in cases where it's monitored by school officials.
Teachers will be able to use social media, as long as it fosters the "legitimate exchange of information" among colleagues, parents and the community, according to the draft guidelines.
Educators will be be free to develop school-related social media sites as long as they are approved by school system administrators. While they are free to have their own "personal media presence" outside of the classroom, teachers will not be able to use the medium to communicate with students in any "improper or inappropriate" way.
Currently, county schools ban all forms of social media within schools. In December, student leaders from the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils voted to support of using the medium in classrooms.
According to the platform they adopted during the annual conference, they said lifting the ban would help foster "education in real time."
Not all students agree with lifting the ban. Elizabeth Jarell, who graduated from Meade High School in 2011, said social media always has been part of her education.
"Personally I don't feel that increasing social media would have helped me. I had enough trouble focusing during the school day as it was. I find social media is distracting within the classroom," she said.
Jarrell added that she did recognize the importance of social media as an effective tool for keeping her informed of events and happenings within the school.
Monk said school officials from nearly a dozen offices worked to draft the legislation.
"We incorporated everyone from student leaders to technology and student services to make sure the policies were well-researched," she said.
She added the policy will likely go through a series of revisions before its adopted.
The board will meet at 10 a.m. at school board headquarters, 2644 Riva Road near Annapolis.
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