Saturday, January 08, 2005


Weblogg-ed posts about the social aspects of the Internet. I think this is an often-overlooked feature of the technology. Think of the ways that the Internet fosters interaction:
  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • Listservs
  • Videoconferencing
  • Blogging
  • Distance Learning

The funny thing is, school districts are terrified about that very thing. They often make it as hard as possible for spontaneous interactions to occur, even banning some of the above activities. Unless the activity is scripted or moderated, they don't want it.

And that's a true shame. In my experience, it's the spontaneous hook-ups that most often lead to a true educational moment. I favor giving kids the tools (age-appropriate, and with oversight), and letting them use them. Yes, I know that kids will initially need a lot of monitoring (particularly their language, which is often not even PG), and, yes, I know that there will need to be supervision to prevent them from contact with predators, but that's true for most activities involving kids.

Rather than clamp down on all kids, single out the ones using inappropriate language, and send them a personal message (like, I know this is how you talk normally, but I believe that you can do better than this). If necessary, kick them off for a few days, longer if they don't learn the lesson. But, don't keep all kids from accessing the power of the web because of a few. It's better to teach them how to use it properly.


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