The main discourse surrounding the issue of social media use in k-12 schools seems to center around two trains of thought:
1. Keep it out
2. Open the doors to commercial social media services (Facebook, etc.)
However, a third possibility exists – the “walled garden” approach. Educators can teach students how to use social media within the confines of a safe and monitored school-run system. Examples of this include Edmodo and Edu2.0 (the system I am piloting with my 6th grade). The idea is that kids should learn about how to be good online digital citizens, and that schools don’t have to use commercial systems to accomplish this. I was excited to read about The School at Columbia University, and how they created their own social networking “playground” for kids to experiment in, make mistakes, and learn about computer mediated communication.
I believe the “walled garden” is a great way to go. Parents seem appreciative and relieved that the school is taking an active role in social media education, and not just giving it lip service with occasional fear-themed assemblies. A positive, safe, and fun learn-by-doing approach to this subject benefits everyone involved.
Looking forward to talking more about my pilot for the 6th grade at the conference!