Monday, May 23, 2011

Time to Toss Out Cell Phone Bans and SM Filters and Be True Technology Leaders

“It’s time to lift the cell phone bans, open the wireless for student personal devices, and stop filtering social technologies.” That seems to be the idea in a position statement released by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. NASSP in this statement includes recommendations to school leaders on what to do with mobile and social technologies. Here are those recommendations. (And a bit of my own commentary of course).

  •  As school leaders we should “encourage and model appropriate and responsible use of both mobile and social technologies.” We should do this so that our students can take advantage of the nature of these technologies in their education. As modelers of these technologies that means we have to be users too. We can’t sit on the sidelines and expect others using them will be enough. Maybe it’s time to get that Twitter account and Facebook page set up and functioning.
  • As school leaders we need “to lead the conversation about connectivity and involve students in the creation of policies.” Instead of trying to be an obstacle to connectivity because we’re fearful of what might happen, we need initiate the conversation that says we want our students to have the advantages of connectivity available through mobile and social technologies. We also need to take advantage of what our students know when it comes to developing policy. They want to be connected too, and not all students are looking to bully students or get into other cyberspace trouble.
  • As school leaders we need to make sure that we “incorporate the responsible use of mobile and social technologies into acceptable use policies.” It’s time to end the ban on students being able to access cell phones and Facebook pages during the school day. Instead of focusing on trying to “keep the evil out” we need to be educating our students on how to engage in responsible social media and mobile device use.
  • As school leaders we need to “promote one-to-one access to connectible devices, including students’ own devices, to allow for anytime-anywhere learning.” It’s time to fling open our wireless networks so that students can access the Internet from their own devices. We teach them responsible use and deal with irresponsible use, not with mass bans and suspensions of privileges, but as a discipline problem which is what misuse is.
  • As school leaders, we need to “incorporate cyberbullying and sexting prevention guidelines into the student code of conduct.” It is time to stop banning mobile and social technologies to try to control these problems. Cyberbullying and sexting are behavior problems not technology problems. They are code of conduct issues that should be addressed like any other conduct violations.
  • As school leaders, we need to “participate in and provide teachers professional development on the effective use of mobile devices and social networking in schools.”  In other words, we need to train our teachers on what mobile and social technologies can do effectively, instead of expending our limited time and energy and that of our teachers enforcing bans that aren’t working any way and filters are students get around anyway.

It is time that school leaders move away from blaming the devices and technologies for the problems, and start doing what we do as educators and that is to teach our students to be responsible users and consumers of mobile and social technologies.


  1. Preach it! This is what I've been saying for quite a while now. Glad to have others on board!

  2. The days of the "computer lab" are over!

    In looking at these points, the last piece about professional development is of paramount importance.

    How do we embed this pro-d into the daily rhythms of the school day so that teachers can "learn" without having to go away for a one off development day and learn something new in yet another contextual vacuum?

    How do we ensure that we have a "learning coach" on staff to help teachers incorporate the use of mobile devices into their classrooms so that all will flow smoothly (if it doesn't, they may not go back to it again)?

    How do we ensure that students have "access points" outside of their respective classrooms to develop the skills and abilities to maximize the use their mobile devices for educational purposes?

    One more reason we all need to have a Learning Commons within our schools where knowledge can be brokered and new contexts can be created for both staff and students.

    Thanks for sharing

  3. We hear teachers talk about these ideas, and what we also hear is teachers want and need guidelines for best practices. Just as Gino said, New paradigms mean new learning for teachers, as well. For example, we did research in how best to support teachers addressing online safety, and worked with national expert Dr. Patricia Agatston. She spoke at ISTE 2010 presenting her focus on building empathy rather than fear. Most teachers tell us they don't know how to effectively address this topic: Here's her talk:

  4. Thank you for the idea. Staff development is the key. In my own school, what has been successful is to get the tools in the hands of early adopters. Our teachers are very open and willing to share and learn from each other.

  5. Thanks for the link Lori. It is most helpful.

  6. No need for computer lab I can access most of what I need from my mobile devices!