Schools are Missing Out

This morning I received a newsletter with an article regarding US Government Agencies using social media websites, e.g. YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, and blip.tv, to publish information. While it is interesting in itself that the Government is using such services, what interested me most was WHY they are using these services,
"We need to get official information out to sites where people are already visiting and encourage them to interact with their government," said GSA Acting Administrator Paul Prouty. “The new agreements make it easier for the government to provide official information to citizens via their method of choice.”
(GSA signs agreements with Web 2.0 providers, Federal Computer Week, 3/25/09)
The government gets it: to be heard, you need to go to where your users already are and communicate they way they are communicating. Make it easy to get information and the information will be used.

So why don't our public schools get this? If schools want to truly reach students and give them an education that will be useful in the modern world, they should use the technology the students are using, but teach them to use it effectively and properly; schools need to stop restricting technology and information base solely on format, and focus on content.

Does this mean schools should have a Facebook page? Maybe. In the least, why not allow students to use social-networking websites in school, while teaching them how to use them as a communication tool (sharing documents, engaging in discussions, etc.) , as well as teaching them the how not to use these websites (cyber-bullying, posting illicit pictures, etc.). By banning technology outright, schools are limiting their own ability to effectively educated and communicate with students, and are hindering the student's abilities to become productive citizens of the 21st century.

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