See? Blogs in secondary schools aren't all bad…. Oh, but don't forget about Facebook

One of my catch-up/work activities is sorting through email, and another is preparing for the “TBA” reading sections in my two on-campus classes, both of which are examining blogging issues. Which is why I’m linking these two articles:

  • “Reading, Writing, and Blogging,” from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which is about a Richmond, VA area school district where all the teachers are required to keep blogs. The idea is for teachers using blogs to keep in touch with students/parents/etc., and some of these teachers have used their blog spaces to publish some student writing, too. One thing that’s impressive from looking at these web spaces/blogs in this school district: these people appear to have their techno-stuff a lot more together than most school districts around here.
  • “Blogs are a ‘voice out to the world for teens,” which was in the Sunday Ann Arbor News. It’s a “Q&A” with Paul Mobbs, Dexter’s (a suburb just up the road) school liaison police officer about blog stuff. Basically, Mobb writes about how he gives workshops for students about what they ought to be careful about with blogging. Here’s a good quote:

    I’ll pull up a student’s blog and say, “Is this too much information?” And most people will say no.

    Well, then I get on their buddy list and within five minutes, I have the ability to figure out from other messages what school they go to, what grade they’re in, what activities they’re involved in. Some people put phone numbers. Within a few minutes, without even trying, I could do a MapQuest to their house. Someone could use that information to create a profile and attempt to start a relationship with that person.

    The students don’t really think of it along those lines, but if you put the pieces of the puzzle together, you can get a lot of information.

    In other words, Mobbs is teaching some basic writing and rhetoric skills regarding audience awareness and computer technology. What I want to know is how come this stuff isn’t being taught in a Dexter high school English class? Or maybe it is?

  • But it’s not all hunky-dory. The EMU Echo has a two article series on the Facebook at EMU. The first article, “Face-ing the Truth,” takes the angle of faculty and staff and others using Facebook to keep tabs on students. To be honest, I don’t think this article has much to say. I mean, “student conduct” isn’t my job, but I have to think that most of the faculty and staff who have Facebook pages are kind of like me (I set up a page after this article): we’re just curious to see what this thing is all about.

    The second article is both kind of obvious but also the sort of thing that our students probably should remember: “Facebook Could Hurt Job Chances.” Here’s a quote:

    It is strikingly common for students to post revealing information about themselves in their Facebook photos. Many students younger than 21 post photos of themselves drinking or playing beer pong, for example.

    David Stollman, a co-founder of Campuspeak.com who has delivered speeches to college students about the dangers of posting dicey information online, said employers are watching.

    “I have talked with employers who have told me that the Facebook entry of an applicant has ruled them out of an interview process,” Stollman said in an e-mail interview. “Basically they said they get lots of resumes and when the person doing the research on the applicants finds ridiculous pictures, stories, etc., [the applicants] were told not to waste their time anymore.

    Now, the article also points out that there aren’t any statistics about how common this scenario actually is; if anything, the article suggests, the number of people being denied jobs because of Facebook things is probably pretty low. Still, students (and everyone else, of course) ought to be aware that whatever you put up on the web has a chance to come back and haunt you, even if you think you’re anonymous. And all I know about Facebook (at least at EMU) is it seems to be a web space most students use to post pictures of themselves and their friends, generally “partying” in some sense. It seems fairly harmless and fairly useless to me.

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2 Responses to See? Blogs in secondary schools aren't all bad…. Oh, but don't forget about Facebook

  1. Pingback: Pastiche » Links

  2. cheryl says:

    Yet another example of great minds thinking alike. I too am beginning an extended discussion in english 328 about blogging/AIM/websites. Like you, Steve, I’m concerned somewhat with the ‘outing’ of student information (particularly since I have a 14 year old daughter who sends inordinate amounts of time blogging and IMing), but I also think that a more productive way to deal with this sort of electronic communication is to alert kids/adults to the dangers inherent–sort of like a lesson in crossing the street for elementary kids. As you said in another entry, bad things can happen to kids in a variety of situations. In eng328, we’re looking primarily at style and the development of an audience/community. I’m also using blogging etc. in eng121. It’s fun, it’s current, and the students feel like experts.

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