Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CIPA and Facebook - Best Friends?

"...spending time online is essential for young people to pick up the social and technical skills they need to be competent citizens in the digital age” (Source: McArthur Digital Media and Learning Report). While some may argue this assertion is a "So what?" kind of issue--after all, how many adults are competent citizens in the digital age, whatever that is--others do see this as being of value. 

Should schools be more relevant to kids? 
"For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend's house."
Consider the humor in forcing students to NOT wear certain clothes, wristbands while saying, "They can only wear what we allow." Whether it's technology or clothes and peripherals, it's not a big leap of the imagination that we have "outpatient prisoners" is it?

“By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as yet unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected and meaningful to kids."
Source: Science Daily -

Maybe this perspective of letting kids use only what we adults deem valuable to them has come to an end. But then, it's clear we know better, right? Consider that human beings aren't designed to multi-task. If helping kids focus means disconnecting them from all their gadgets, aren't we justified as educators?
Students who attempt to multi-task, checking social media sites while studying, show reduced academic performance ( Their ability to concentrate on the task at hand is significantly reduced by the distractions that are brought about by YouTube, stumbleupon, Facebook or Twitter.  (Source:
Social media usage in K-12 school districts continues to be a hot topic, worthy of people's attention and interest. It's not like social media is going to improve test scores dramatically all by itself...even though research shows that kids spend significant chunks of their time discussing schoolwork. And, of course, there are other benefits:
Social networking has increased the rate and quality of collaboration for students. They are better able to communicate meeting times or share information quickly, which can increase productivity and help them learn how to work well in groups. (Source:
What's humorous is that school districts have been scrambling to put speed bumps in front of students accessing technology, watching how people use obsolete technology in our schools and over-controlling them. Think I'm wrong? When is the last time you tried to install a browser extension--such as Diigo social bookmarking--on a machine locked down with Active Directory?

The justification for all this has been 4 letter acronym--CIPA, also known as the Children's Internet Protection Act.
The FCC has released its Order to implement the CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) Amendments passed by Congress in 2008.The full Order is available at:
Now, in a stunning clarification to CIPA that becomes effective July 1, 2012, the following assertion is made regarding what needs to be done to protect children against cyberbullying and develop digital citizenship:
In an effort to clear-up a common misconception, the FCC specifically noted that Facebook or MySpace are not required to be blocked under FCC rules.
What?!? Not blocked? Won't this shake the foundations of technology departments that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars blocking social networking sites? What is the fundamental expectation of schools? One thing that they have been reluctant to engage in:


It's a hard thing to ponder. How to communicate the message that block and ban isn't an option anymore?
Your Internet Safety Policies must include monitoring the online activities of minors and must provide educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and responses.   Schools must have documentation on the requirements and what curriculum is being used to comply with this Order.
Is Facebook allowed under CIPA? At last the answer is clear...YES.

And with that decision, Twitter, Google+, and a million other unspeakable technologies line up at the schoolhouse door, waiting for the magic moment when they can follow their masters into the school. It sort of reminds me of....
As a girl, Mary Sawyer (later Mrs. Mary Tyler) kept a pet lamb, which she took to school one day at the suggestion of her brother. A commotion naturally ensued. (Source: Wikipedia)

But, the commotion has already ensued, eh?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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