A report issued Thursday finds that while principals believe social networking can enhance their students’ educational experience, they are unsatisfied with their school or district’s social-networking policies.
The report, issued collaboratively by educator-focused social-networking site edWeb.net, education technology consultants IESD, data providers MCH Strategic Data, and research firm MMS Education, combines feedback from an online survey sent to a cross section of educators nationwide in the fall of 2009, followed by an online discussion with 12 principals who use social networking professionally.
About half of the surveyed principals said they believed social networking could be very valuable to students, and most said it would at least hold some value. And most principals in the discussion group believed social networking could help students develop a more collaborative view of learning, improve their motivation and involvement, and connect school learning to real-world experiences. However, those same principals said their school or district social-networking policies were inadequate to promote social networking in schools that achieved those goals.
I’d be curious to see how the views of principals less familiar with using social networking professionally would differ from the views of those in the discussion group. And there have been a host of well-publicized instances in recent months of schools and districts in Florida, New Hampshire, and Maryland, among others, implementing social-networking policies, though not always with the first focus on using social networking to enhance education.
But one thing’s clear. The challenge of schools regulating and harnessing a medium whose initial popularity came because in part of the freedom it allowed has no quick and easy answer. Not even if you look for it on Google.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.