Monday, May 24, 2010

Social Networking Responsibility

One thing that I tend to do when I come across something new to my world is to read up on it, get my head around what has to happen to make it work or useful, and then I delve into whatever it is. (You really don't want to be around me when I try spending more than $100.00 on something.) Because of the requirements of my Emerging Technologies class, I didn't get that sort of time with using Twitter. This forced me to just "get in there and use it;" although it's not hard to use, it's the way it gets used that still has me acting cautiously.

As I have previously blogged, I think Twitter can be dangerous in the wrong hands. "Dangerous" may not be the best word here, but I equate this technology to a bullhorn in a crowded theater. Most people will not use it in a capricious manner, understanding that the bullhorn is there for a specific purpose or situation. A few people, however, will grab it and do something useless - perhaps even irresponsible - with it and cause a ruckus. The bullhorn itself isn't the issue, but the availability of it to everyone is.

Tweeter is something that not everyone needs to use - or even should. Twitter can be a harmless diversion, an effective tool, but it can also lead to situations that aren't necessary or intended. As I was listening to NPR this morning, an item in their newscast mentioned that while labor issues within British Airways were being negotiated, one of the union representatives was Tweeting during the actual negotiations - and they broke down in part because of that. BA Strike News Was it part of labor's strategy to leak Tweet updates so that negotiations wouldn't go anywhere, or was it someone who was unable to handle the responsibility of having information at their fingertips exercising poor judgment and use of their mobile device? Either way, it brings the technology to the forefront of a "proper use" discussion.

Proper use of social networks and mobile devices is something that we as teachers deal with on a daily basis - with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. It will always be a challenge to try to define what is appropriate and what isn't. Students don't always know how to handle the responsibility that goes along with the freedom of texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and so on - and schools aren't always thrilled to be the ones to define or instruct that responsibility.

Is there a happy medium?


  1. Bill, you echo my sentiment and hesitation with social networking precisely. Social networks have developed so quickly that there hasn't been time to really assess how it can and should be used. More importantly, there are no rules or regulations behind it's use - at work, in the classroom, etc. Do these social networks have power to do great things, yes! But when it comes to educational and work settings there should be someone managing it's use. You are definitely not alone with your concerns because I'm right there with you.

  2. As I was browsing Scott McLeod's blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, he had a good post that addressed this issue. In an new feature, 5 questions, he interviewed Steve Dembo, and he answered the question I think we all have, How do (or would) you respond to someone who says 'The kids know more about technology than I do. How do I handle this?'

    I hope this helps.