Just arrived in Eugene, OR to attend the COSA Oregon School Law Conference. I’m excited to back channel. Feeling like @tomwhitby #OSLC2012
— Adam Howell (@TheDumbJockMyth) December 6, 2012
@thedumbjockmyth Don't be upset with the lawyers' views on Social Media, they are Glass-half-empty types. #OSLC2012 #cpchat #Edchat
— Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) December 6, 2012
While sitting in on the breakout sessions at #OSLC2012, I noticed a terrific irony developing. I saw a thoroughly impressive amount of technology in the hands of the attendees of this conference. So much technology that it would make any classroom teacher jealous to be able to have that tech in a student's hands. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, Android, iOS; this conference had it all. With this technology at the leader's fingertips, none of them seemed to be connected. In fact, the tone of many of the sessions was one of fear and mistrust of students and teachers using some of the powerful tools available right now for learning purposes.
I heard actual comments from presenters stating:
"I hate social media, no student should ever have a Facebook"
"The thought of teachers having connections with students on social media makes me want to *insert gagging sound*"
There was very little pushback in reaction to these comments when they were made. It was almost like all of these leaders sat typing away on their laptops, tablets and smart phones and nodded in agreement. When a colleague of mine did voice his objection to some comments made with respect to using Facebook to connect with parents--the presenter didn't seem to understand his question and continued to advocate their viewpoint that it was dangerous and reckless to use social media as a professional.
Despite this, I found this conference to be particularly inspiring and informational regarding education in general. It was not inspiring for someone who is a supporter of educational technology. This is where the contradiction exists:
There is an enormous desire for new technology in education today, yet there is an equally enormous misconception among leaders that teachers and especially students will use that technology inappropriately.
The paradigm that currently exists in many cases is that kids are going to use technology, and there is nothing that we can do about it. It has moved beyond the culture of preventing access and has turned into a culture of, "well, then we just won't participate." This paradigm needs to shift. One of the few sessions that I felt was positive towards social media use was the first one that I attended. This lawyer talked extensively about educating students about the dangers of social media and how to use it appropriately. One of my colleagues (who I happened to meet for the first time at this conference through using #OSLC2012) eloquently pointed out:
"How can we educate students on using social media, if we don't model appropriate use with them?"
Well said, my friend.