Some schools ban social networks for wasting classroom time or to protect students from weirdos. But, as part of a wider trend toward less top-down teaching, other institutions are putting tools like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook on the curriculum — and teachers are saying: “Thanks for the add.” Recent efforts to outlaw the Web 2.0 sites so beloved by teenagers include a congressional bill that would throttle funds to schools that do not restrict access. But Elgg, open-source social networking software developed at the University of Brighton, has been designed specifically with academic uses in mind….Broadly, Elgg represents a shift from aging, top-down classroom technologies like Blackboard to what e-learning practitioners call personal learning environments — mashup spaces comprising del.icio.us feeds, blog posts, podcast widgets — whatever resources students need to document, consume or communicate their learning across disciplines.
Read Don’t Tell Your Parents: Schools Embrace MySpace from WIRED.
School officials in Scituate are proposing to direct teachers and staff about appropriate use of social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, raising questions about whether school systems should interfere with employees’ personal activities. Scituate officials say they are trying to address the liabilities presented when teachers and students maintain online communication on these increasingly popular websites. The proposed policy, state officials say, appears to be the first to tackle teachers’ use of the online sites.
A Pennsylvania woman claims that her teaching career has been derailed by college administrators who unfairly disciplined her over a MySpace photo that shows her wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. In a federal lawsuit, Stacy Snyder charges that Millersville University brass accused her of promoting underage drinking after they discovered her MySpace photo, which was captioned “Drunken Pirate.” The picture from Snyder’s MySpace page (which she says was snapped at a costume party outside school hours) can be seen below. In her complaint, Snyder, a 25-year-old single mother of two, says that Millersville officials discovered the image last May, while she was a senior working as a student-teacher at Conestoga Valley High School. A university official told her that the photo was “unprofessional” and could have offended her students if they accessed her MySpace page.
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