High school students at many Marin schools, including Novato, will now have access to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, part of an evolving curriculum that seeks to integrate more technology in the classroom.
The change is happening as more schools use iPads, laptops and other devices and seek to connect with students in ways that reflect their daily lives. It's also part of the switch to the Common Core standards, which all schools must adopt by 2015.
Mt. Tamalpais Unified School District recently updated its social media policy to allow access to sites during school time, and Novato Unified is looking to formalize a policy, although access is already allowed.
"We have some very talented teachers in NUSD who have developed innovative techniques to utilize the power of the Internet and social media to enhance the education that students receive as well as teach students about digital literacy," said Julia Kempkey, director of Instructional Technology & Secondary Education.
Schools have always taught students about how to be a good citizen, which in the 21st century includes good online behavior, she said.
"Social media is a major way that students develop their identity online and has a huge impact on their future if they are not taught how to use it appropriately," Kempkey said.
Now students connected to a school’s network — whether it’s on a school computer or using their own device — can visit the social media sites.
Schools know that students can tune out when using social media sites, but believe that the benefits still outweight the risks.
"The Internet in itself can be a huge distraction but it is quickly becoming part of teachers’ practice to integrate social media into how we go about teaching. The students know that they should only access social media during an educationally appropriate time. That being said, there will always be some students who will be distracted by this or the variety of other things going on at school- this is the nature of teaching children."
What are your thoughts? Do you think giving students access to social media sites during school hours will help or hurt instruction? Tell us in the comments!
Jessica Mullins contributed reporting.