Friday, April 22, 2005

More problems with student "blogs"

An Iowa TV news station report linked to from eSchool News online says that some Iowa schools have started blocking Xanga now.

A school IT person is quoted as saying
"it's frightening. It's frightening. That's why it is filtered here at school."
"kids use it to vent. And sometimes they say good things, sometimes they say inappropriate things."
"they were making harassing statements towards other students, towards staff members."

What I find disturbing is that the emphasis seems to be on limiting students' ability to read these "frightening" posts. I wonder what is being done to try to get at the reason WHY students are posting such things in the first place. Am I just out of touch? Am I worrying about something that everyone else knows can't be solved? If so, that is more frightening to me than the posts themselves.


Anonymous said...

Have you read jocalo's interesting discussion of a similar situation in, I think, Vermont? His blog is called "A Writing Teacher's Blog," and you can access it from Community College English.

Anonymous said...

Student blogs can be a wonderful learning tool but are also very, very dangerous. What a student posts on a blog as the result of a teacher's instructions (a school endorsement) can create a cascade of problems centered around privacy issues. Schools must weigh the costs and benefits of making this risk.

As far as why the students are saying these things- have you actually perused the Xanga sites? It's absolutely unbelievable- with anonymous identities, students will say anything. That doesn't mean that what they say is hearfelt or not. There are more constructive methods of expression than harassing others and slandering others. Perhaps what they need to be taught is how to act responsibly in a digital age- too bad their parents won't partner in that. Of all the students I work with, most have Xanga sites- and by their own admission, more than 77% of them confessed to not telling their parents about it. Most parents don't know what a blog is or the dangers it can impose. I have students posting their real names, addresses, phone numbers, and revealing pictures right there for the world to see. And you want a school district to be held accountable for that?