Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The facebook thing

If you're one of my few fb friends, you've probably noticed I'm not there a lot. I find it impossible to navigate the privacy policies and frankly distrust the format, having no desire to expose myself, my desires and behaviors to nefarious uses by marketers interested in targeting their advertising even more precisely. And many of my tech-ier teens have cooled on the social networking tool, now that their grandmother is checking their wall...

But I'm confronted with fb on a daily basis. Student profiles on our school network are blocked from http://www.facebook.com/ But our district didn't pay a premium to block secure sites, so https://www.facebook.com allows you access, open sesame, and there's not a student that doesn't know it and consequently violate the district's acceptable use policy on a regular basis.

When I started working at my school, I really wanted students to have unlimited and, to a great extent, unfiltered access to the Internet. With fb, the purpose of use has become an issue for the first time because of the extremely limited resources at our school. Right now, two girls are regularly coming to the library to use the computers for fb fourth block, in some cases muscling out students doing research. We have only 14 machines, so most are being used instructionally at any given moment.

The official district fb blockage introduces other issues. Should I as a steward of network resources confront them for violating the usage policy? How could I do this equitably, when all students seem to participate? And what about students doing coursework who have fb open, too? In another browser window or with a document open, that seems like multitasking. And I keep wondering WHY these girls would choose the library to check fb. Maybe they don't have Internet access at home, to say nothing of the smartphones many students use to check fb in class (under the desk, or in the purse albeit). Is it an equity issue? There is that one math teacher who posts his course videos to fb, as well... I would limit access to instructional resources.

I'm sickened and daunted by the prospect of monitoring use. I once visited the library in the better-funded city school I graduated from twenty years ago, where software observes all activity at student workstations, and the librarian can close a browser session or send a note to the student's desktop. While I love that idea for bibliographic instruction, I'm not sure I want to invade their space, mechanically or otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment