We need to talk about what we shouldn’t do

Last night as part of the #edtechbc, I received 2 tweets that really upset me.  Granted, I might be taking them out of context.  If so, I hope that someone will correct me.  If I’ve I have understood them as intended, then I hope that the senders will correct themselves.  The two tweets were:

 @royanlee Royan Lee Word.

RT @gcouros: “We need to talk a lot more about what we should do with social media than what we shouldn’t” Great by @chrkennedy

 @MrWejr Chris Wejr

Instead of talking about what we should NOT be doing using SM, we need to be talking about what we SHOULD be doing – @chrkennedy #edtechbc

I responded to both but found I wanted to be more explicit.  My original tweet response was:

 @ginrob_pt P. Tucker

Disagree -Am working with minors. It is my duty 2 error on side of caution. What we shouldn’t is our limit-what we should is limitless @MrWejr

Unlike the 2 tweets, I believe that our first conversation needs to be what we shouldn’t do.  I further believe that we should continue to have that conversation until we are at least reasonably sure that we understand the dangers / pitfalls / negative consequences.  We need to know what we shouldn’t do because that needs to serve as our limit.  What we should do, is near limitless and with infinite possibility; there are many right things to do and no one right way to do them.  An opportunity is like a bus; a missed one, while unfortunate, can easily be made up for.  Doing something we shouldn’t, is more likely to cause harm (broadly defined of course) and once it is done, can be difficult or impossible to undo.  Knowing what we shouldn’t do is also knowing the negative consequences.

Most of us teach minors that are entrusted into our care.  It is our ethical duty to error on the side of caution.  If you want to explore technology, then do it yourself and expose yourself to unknown risk.  By the time you introduce it to you students, you need to understand the dangers that need to be avoided (or prepared for) so that you can fulfil your duty to your students.  I’ll never make that mistake again.  I was encouraged to explore Twitter with my students and to learn it with them.  I was therefore ignorant and unprepared when several of my students were exposed to spam pornographers.  Besides this expose to my students (for which they were unprepared), more negative consequences were created in this situation.  As I am a professional, I’d be expected to know about this.  I think that by inadvertently exposing my students to unknown risks, I was also putting myself a more risk.

We need to share our knowledge of dangers and what we shouldn’t do at least as vigorously as we share what we can do.

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  1. #1 by Chris Wejr on April 20, 2011 - 3:09 pm

    Conversations around social media in schools is dominated by angles like you have presented. We always need to act as a careful and prudent parent would whenever we work with children. What Chis Kennedy was stating was that we also need to be aware of the positives of social media and the powers of connections that can occur by using it. Videos and reports of cyberbullying, pornography, spamming, etc are mostly what we hear in the media. Rarely do we hear about the many positive connections that occur – like students helping others around the world, classrooms connecting to learn languages, and many other ways that social media can help learning.

    We obviously cannot jump into SM without being aware of the dangers but if all we ever hear are things that are the problems, we will fail to see the many benefits.

    Chris was basically saying that we need to be sharing more positives about social media rather than directing our district and school policies based on fear. Just because Twitter is a tool that can be spammed does not mean we completely block it; just because Facebook can be used inappropriately does not mean we ban it. Make the tools availabe and teach the positive way of using it. At our level (elementary/intermediate), we don’t encourage Twitter and Facebook for our students but we also do not block it. 90% of my grade 6’s are on FB so I discuss with them privacy settings and what is appropriate to post/comment.

    So, we need to keep your points in mind as we venture into social media but we cannot have the fears and negatives dominate the message.

    • #2 by mrpatricktucker on April 20, 2011 - 7:58 pm

      Dear Chris Wejr;
      thanks for taking the time to respond and clarify your position. I think that we probably agree in principle if not in degree. I certainly agree with you wholeheartedly that much of the conversation in the national media tries to generate fear as a strategy to generate revenue; it has been recycling stories of miss-use again and again. I agree that we should not let these stories or that behavior detract or derail our conversation about SM; however, I disagree with you that our dialogues as a profession have been equally negative. I think, especially on twitter, that we have been overly positive. I find a disturbing lack of critical pause and reflection and a general disdain for people who point out issues or difficulties (I am absolutely by no means inferring you are one; you have taken the time to respond—most don’t). Perhaps I am following the wrong people. Can you suggest some negative or critical tweeters to give my time line some balance.

  2. #3 by Royan Lee on April 20, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    I agree with you Mr. Tucker that there are many pitfalls not only for our students who are minors, but also us as teachers. Social media and its potential use in the classroom certainly would not be the controversial topic it is were it not fraught with possible missteps or misguided use.

    I would add, however, that successful and meaningful use of SM in schools needs strong leadership (such as the kind provided by people such as @gcouros), clear and articulated pedagogical purpose, and, most of all, resiliency. There is no point in walking down the SM path if mistake making is not accepted as part and parcel in the process.

    I would further suggest that, at least from my vista, the ‘shouldn’t do’ educating, at least in terms of lectures, posters, pamphlets, and other media, is not something that is scarce. In my original retweet, I was simply acknowledging the derth of mainstream discourse on ‘the power and potential’ of SM for networked learning.

    I agree with you that it is somewhat naive to look upon a technology such as SM as neutral. The medium changes people and the world. No question.

    Perhaps what we should really do is stop polarizing SM’s effects and purpose as BAD and GOOD. It’s much more complex than that. In particular, I doubt we are ever going to reach an entire generation of young people who use SM in their daily lives so long as our dominant voice is one of perpetual admonishment.

    • #4 by mrpatricktucker on April 20, 2011 - 8:07 pm

      Dear Royan Lee
      I agree with so much of what you have said; thank you for taking the time to respond. I have also read the response (thus far) on your blog and agree with it as well. We must start with our vision of what we ought to do or try to do. I think, however, that includes what we should avoid – both create a vision; both are sides of the same coin.

      As I wrote in response to Chris Wejr, I find the discussion on twitter, for example, as terribly one sided as the national media, but in this case it is one sided in its enthusiasm and support of using technology and SM with students. I don’t think that unbridled enthusiasm is a good way to counterbalance the national negative attention. It just creates an equally objectionable discussion. I was trying to suggest that we need a balanced discussion from the start to create our vision (being realistic about the pros and cons) otherwise, it will merely be a straw-man vision that will burn away when challenged by difficulties that we never considered when creating it. I didn’t mean to suggest that we should not look at how it would benefit our instruction or our student’s learning…merely that we must also consider what the limits should be.

  3. #5 by Michelle Baldwin on April 20, 2011 - 9:52 pm

    I’m going to agree with Royan and Chris on this one. I teach in an elementary school that is LOCKED DOWN. I can’t use any web tools with them, especially not those deemed “social.” *shudder*

    These kids are not learning at ALL about what they should or shouldn’t do, because they’re too sheltered. However, if we DID have any tools at our disposal, I would approach them in the same manner I approach behavior in my classroom. We always talk about examples of what we want for our classroom rules long before we talk about what we don’t want. I ask the students for examples of responsible and respectful behavior- and what does that look like? We role play. We discuss.

    I think all kids- adults, too- need to know what something looks like before they know what it should NOT. Too many negatives distort the vision of what something is.

    My two cents.

    • #6 by mrpatricktucker on April 21, 2011 - 7:25 am

      Thank you for your response. It is unfortunate that your school has a siege mentality. Hopefully, someone will be able to respond to you about how to try to crack that. I have not had that experience, so I don’t have any practical advice for you on that. I do have two minor problems / responses to your reply:

      1) You are not disagreeing with me; this touches upon the point I was trying to make. Whenever I, or someone, makes a comment about negative consequences or issues to consider, I feel largely ignored (this present conversation being the exception which I attribute to directing it to individuals) or even shunned. I am not suggesting that we not use technology or SM with students; I love using technology with my students, and I use it quite liberally. I am merely suggesting that we don’t fool ourselves; that we consider deeply: Postman’s 5 ideas (see post), Danah Boyd’s article (also posted), and the business plan of these companies / tools.
      2) Your procedure to create behavioural norms seems good and sound. I know you described it briefly, but it appears to be missing how to deal with people who are not in your room. This is not about using SmartIdeas in your classroom so much about interacting with the largely adult and uncensored reality of the wider world. These companies / tools create other issues besides typical classroom ones.

      I’m not at all uncomfortable with your school keeping its shields up until teachers understand the nature and danger of the internet; however, once understood, the shields need to come down.

  4. #7 by minientrepreneur on April 21, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    I am actively involved with getting technology incorporated in the classroom, I see what you are trying to say, but am not however agreeing with you. If you look at education today you’ll see a lot of people doing poorly. This isn’t their fault, in fact I have seen students who have never been head of the class students get turned around into the premier leaders of learning in the class or even school.

    My point is that everybody learns in a different way and you can’t measure a student’s ability through one type of activity (in this case pen and paper). When you look at some of the richest, most powerful people in the world today you see that many are drop-outs or people that took risks. Granted these people were very smart, however, the way that they succeeded was that they spread their knowledge and thoughts in a different way, much like others if they can express themselves more easily. Ya bad stuff is out there, but it’s like “Sleeping Beauty” if you take all of the danger out of the way it will be found once again. Also if are able to protect yourself now, that is a valuable ability to have for life. Basically what I take your saying is that if we take away positives everything is better?

  5. #8 by P. Tucker on April 21, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    Thank you for responding. I have to say though, I don’t see how the majority of your response addresses my point, much less how you disagree with me. Much of your post seems to be unrelated content, but it is content that I agree with so thanks for posting it here.

    Towards the end you write:
    ”Ya bad stuff is out there, but it’s like “Sleeping Beauty” if you take all of the danger out of the way it will be found once again. Also if are able to protect yourself now, that is a valuable ability to have for life. Basically what I take your saying is that if we take away positives everything is better?.”

    This does seem to address my post, but I think that it is a point you have misunderstood. My point is that, in my experience, people are too focused on the positives to seriously consider some of the ramifications of technology and SM use. I am not saying they we shouldn’t use it, that we can’t mitigate the risk, or any other such position. I am asking teachers to be reasonable and read about 12 pages of articles. Just imagine if Sleeping Beauty were taught to be careful instead of ignoring the danger. If she was taught the ramifications of pricking her finger, they she could have chosen to be more careful. If she had done that, she wouldn’t have had to rely on a stranger to fall in love with her for her physical appearance; she would have used the technology well and purposefully; we might even have learned her name.

    • #9 by minientrepreneur on April 21, 2011 - 7:22 pm

      Ya, sorry about that, bad habit of mine. And when you say “I am asking teachers to be reasonable and read about 12 pages of articles.” I think that even if you read those 12 pages you still have questions that can not be easily answered. The best way is to teach from experience, and at some point you have to start. You have to develop your own style and then to go even farther I guess you could read the article. However, that could put doubts in your mind and return you to square one. Not the whole post but some.

      • #10 by P. Tucker on April 22, 2011 - 8:22 pm

        I cannot support your Nietzschen approach to learning or teacher. Of course reading something will create questions; isn’t that how we learn or develop deep understanding? By questioning! If you read something that “put doubts in your mind and return you to square one,” hopefully it was because it was important enough to warrant it. How can you justify ignoring something important enough that it might make you reconsider what you are doing to and with minors? Do you teach your children to consider things from different angles or only from their preferences or first impression?

  6. #11 by minientrepreneur on April 23, 2011 - 11:26 am

    Ya, but what if you read an article with incorrect information? Then you might of had it down and ruined it. By the way, I hope this doesn’t end the conversation but I’m far from a teacher, I’m a student.

    • #12 by P. Tucker on April 23, 2011 - 1:05 pm

      ok…that is a danger…but that shouldn’t be an argument against reading an article…if you extend that line of thinking, you can’t justify any learning or reading. Interesting to have a student comment…do you want your teacher to know the advantages and disadvantages of a technology before they teach you? Do you want them to understand what they are exposing you to and what they are asking you to do? You should read those 2 articles then tell me if there is anything in there that teachers should understand.

  7. #13 by minientrepreneur on April 23, 2011 - 11:28 am

    And also, “Nietzschen” isn’t a word.

  8. #15 by minientrepreneur on April 23, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    Now you’ve missed my point. Of course we can learn from reading, but a better, more efficient way is to talk and bring up different points of view like we are now.

    • #16 by P. Tucker on April 23, 2011 - 1:32 pm

      well, I still think that literate genres have value, even different value, then talking about it, but I agree a conversation with different points of view would be great. This is my point, teachers need to engage professionally in a dialog like you suggest with themselves; with different points of view (like you suggest). The problem, up to this point, is they only seem to be engaged in a one sided conversation. Glad you see why that is a bad idea….

      • #17 by minientrepreneur on April 23, 2011 - 2:44 pm

        Exactly, but which side do educators agree on? Because when I’m at conferences I almost never hear positives that aren’t from presenters!

  9. #18 by minientrepreneur on April 23, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    for example I learned who Nietzsche is.

  10. #19 by minientrepreneur on May 1, 2011 - 3:14 pm

    look, I know how wordpress works, and I know that this message is first on your list, I have been waiting 2 weeks for a response and I am greatly confused by your actions, please respond to my previous comment soon. thank you.

    • #20 by P. Tucker on May 1, 2011 - 3:24 pm

      I’m at a loss as to what response you are waiting for. The tone of your post is is inappropriate; you assume too much. I took your last question to be rhetoric and decided to let you have the last word. Since it would be so easy to infer what side I feel educators agree on, I inferred that you thought I was wrong. The conferences I go to, and the discussions I witness on twitter, are, in my opinion, horribly one-sided (positive) as I have already indicated.

  11. #21 by minientrepreneur on May 1, 2011 - 7:24 pm

    no, it was a genuine a question, and just because you witness this doesn’t make it true, the people on twitter are positive because they have already discovered the tool. Conferences I go to are to present this point to people like you who never accept anything different.

    P.S. I don’t want the last word; I want the win.

    • #22 by minientrepreneur on May 1, 2011 - 7:25 pm

      P.S. P.S. sorry, I overreact sometimes.

      • #23 by P. Tucker on May 1, 2011 - 8:18 pm

        I wonder if your response was intended to be ironic? It certainly was dismissive, both of me and our conversation thus far. You habit of putting words in my mouth, while at the same time ignoring the words I have said or the conversation we have had is something, if you don’t mind me saying, that detracts from your point and is something that you should strive to outgrow. Your characterization of me is flippant and inaccurate. I know that I am supposed to nurture my audience in the beginning, but I think that I wish to end this current discussion. I don’t want to censor any contribution but time will tell if this is necessary. If you want the win, you have to address the conversation. My point has been: we should go into this with our eyes open; I stand by it.

  12. #24 by minientrepreneur on May 2, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    I admit to starting it, but it is your fault too for replying in a way to drive it off of topic.

  1. Response to P. Tucker’s post “We need to talk about what we shouldn’t do” « The Spicy Learning Blog

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