I’m a little late on this, I know, but in catching up with the ed-tech blogs I read after being on vacation for a couple of weeks, I came across this post on Alexander Russo’s District 299: The Chicago Schools Blog. Apparently Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, has approved a new e-mail policy that prohibits teachers from contacting students through cellphones, non-CPS e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs and Web sites created off the CPS network.
One teacher’s reaction is posted in the blog entry, and judging from the comments that follow, many tech-savvy teachers in CPS are not happy about this new development. Here’s an excerpt from the teacher’s response:
The biggest frustration is that on the technology front the CPS Network is totally inadequate. The message to me is strong and clear - innovative, tech savvy teachers should look elsewhere for employment. ... I guess this means that the interactive website I've spent this summer designing for my students with open-source WordPress is off limits. I can't share video we create on our own. I can't ask them to compare and contrast two of our own videos, or one of our videos with someone else's, or two videos from elsewhere. I can't solicit student responses on core content.
We’ve talked a lot here on the Digital Education blog about limits being placed on what students can do on school networks, but not as much about the constraints placed on teachers. While I do think that this may be an extreme example, other school districts are likely facing similar growing pains as they attempt to navigate new developments in a Web 2.0 world.
Does your school have policies in place regarding student/teacher contact over the Internet? If so, what are they? Do you think the rules CPS has enacted will help protect students and teachers from potential problems, or do you think they will hinder teachers’ instruction?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.