Social networks are the wave of the future, but can they help students progress towards theirs? At William Byrd High School and other Roanoke County schools, laptops are made available to students to use for classes.
Many of the students have gone off task before. One example is using a form of a social networking site like Facebook, Twitter, or Google +. Since these websites help connect people with ease, they could have a lot of benefit, but with great risk.
“There is no question that it could be of value to schools, if used properly”, Nancy Chewning said, assistant principal at WBHS. Her among others do see the benefit in using such websites for academics. Being high up in the system, with her approval more people could see the uses.
“Some positives would be keeping classes relevant. Students today have grown up in the digital environment,” said Aric Palazzola, an internet technician for WBHS. “If education could access things students are clearly in love with, like Facebook and Twitter, it may be able to reach a student that you might not without using those sites”.
With the ability to help get to the students, more use can be found useful for school.
“My students have been using Facebook as long as they’ve been in French to chat back in forth in French” said Cammie Williams, a French teacher at WBHS. She also has another use for Facebook out of class. Her French four students have a Facebook group outside of class and have used it for the entirety of this school year.
She also said “We have some students visiting from France in November and the students are talking on Facebook already before they arrive”.
Students show similar interests in getting it passed.
“It should be allowed but monitored,” Daniel Kuder a senior at WBHS said. “I would use it properly during school because you’ve got time outside of school to be social”.
Kuder has worked with WBHS’s I.T. before, so he knows the consequences of misuse. “It’d be helpful for people in a language to speak with people in different countries,” said Bethany Ward, a freshman at WBHS. She also said she would use the sites properly during school.
“Teachers monitor you during class and you’re going to get caught if you go off task,” Ward said.
The idea of using the sites shows benefit. The issue with using it at school would be punishment for misuse.
“Right now with the current laptop rules, it would be laptop loss between two and four weeks and a Saturday school,” Chewning said.
“It must be treated the same way as going off task in class, with Saturday school and detention” he said.
Twitter has already been a point of contention at WBHS this school year. During the first portion of the year, the site was un-blocked and students were using it. Experience has shown that if students have access to something, they will use it. The issue is using it in the right way at the right time. “It was something to do when we didn’t have work to do” said junior Caleisha Harris.
Harris identified one of the biggest banes in Twitter.
“People could have used it to cheat,” she said
Twitter, currently blocked, is a very well known form of communication. It has a private message system and gives many opportunities to talk to other people.
“If students wanted to talk, they would text each other,” said senior Robbie Sherwood.
Seeing it as a form of communication, he didn’t see an issue with Twitter for that use. But with Twitter being a form of communication, it can mimic texting.
“If you’re not allowed to text or get on Facebook during school, then why should you be able to get on twitter,” asked senior Leah Roberts.
So students misused Twitter and lost it. Maybe that could be a lesson learned or maybe it is just the latest example of teen ingenuity when it comes to social communication online.
“They’re just going to find something else,” Roberts said.
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