Tuesday, July 24, 2007

IT Showdown: XO's On Your Network

So... if kids are getting XO's for Christmas, will they be allowed to bring them to your school? Even if they can't connect to your school network, they'll be able to connect to each other to chat, collaborate, etc.

This would be a good issue to lay some groundwork on, particularly for those of you who sit on the advisory boards of foundations influential in the world of ed tech, write columns for magazines read by school administrators or IT guys, or generally have influential blogs.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Tom,

I am not sure how we would handle this. We are all over the board when it comes to digital devices. Our biggest challenge seems to be trying to restrict something that is so much a natural part of life for students. It is somewhat like trying to tell kids that gum is not allowed. It might have made sense 40 years ago as chewing gum was disrespectful, but doesn't make much sense now (and is unmanageable).

We do not allow cell phone use during school hours, and that is going the way of the no gum rule - getting to be nearly unmanageable. Kids are confused (to them, it probably seems silly), and administrators spend way too much time chasing the perps down instead of focusing on improving instruction.

People might argue that cell phones (and later the XO's) are learning tools and communications tools which might actually benefit education, and my response would be, "that depends on how they are used". If I was trying to hold a discussion and a cell phone went off in my class, and a casual conversation ensued, I would certainly consider it a distraction. Similarly if mine went off in meeting with my superintendent and I started talking on it, I doubt I would escape a some form of consequence. On the other hand, electronic devices could be used in positive ways - but my point is that kids (not "a kid" but kids in general) use them for a variety of tasks and sometimes in a distractive manner.

Which leads to appropriate use and why we seem to end up with policies which ban the use of devices. It is easier to ban the use than to expect everyone to act responsibly. I am not saying it is right, but that is my take on it.

So, when it comes to XO's on our network, my guess is that we would view them like cell phones, banning instead of expecting appropriate use - it is easier (not better, not the right thing to do... easier).

But, how long before electronic devices become the chewing gum of school no-no's? I don't think it will take us so long.