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Principals Call for Mobile and Social Technologies in Schools

The National Association of Secondary School Principals is looking to change the conversation about mobile computing and social media in schools. The group's board of directors recently released a position statement advocating greater access to and acceptance of technologies like smart phones and social networking sites in educational institutions.

The statement characterized mobile and social technologies as both crises and opportunities for leaders, saying confusion among many principals has to date led many school leaders to knee-jerk policy decisions, such as outright bans on specific technologies. But these bans, in addition to being misguided, have been ineffective.

"For example, in schools that prohibit cell phones, 54 percent of students still report sending texts during the school day," the statement said, citing a 2010 Pew Internet report. "And it's the rare student who can't do an end run around Internet filters with a simple proxy server. More importantly, as mobile devices become more powerful and more affordable, their potential for enhancing student learning has come into clearer focus. Social networking sites provide platforms for student creativity by enabling them to design projects using words, music, photos, and videos."

In a separate statement released to coincide with the position paper, the group's executive director, Gerald N. Tirozzi, indicated that blocking technologies like smart phones and social networking sites takes education in the wrong direction.

"For years, the conversation about mobile and social technology in schools has revolved around how to block it," Tirozzi said. "But it's becoming increasingly clear that simply blocking such technologies does students a disservice. An education that fails to account for the responsible use of mobile devices and social networks prepares students for our past, but not for their future."

The position statement made several recommendations for school, district, and policy leaders. In part, it:

  • Asked policy leaders to clarify the legal liability of school leaders when technologies are misused by students;
  • Urged district leaders to reduce Internet filtering and "articulate clear technology policies that have sufficient latitude for schools to connect electronically without fear of retribution or undue consequences"; and
  • Recommended school leaders promote technology access and teacher professional development while also encouraging responsible use of technologies that have the potential for more serious types of misuse.

NASSP represents middle school and high school leaders in the United States and 45 other countries. It has a membership of about 30,000. The group's complete position statement can be accessed directly here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .