Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Teachable Moment: Scottish Community Bans Twitter for Teachers

This is a story that's been out there for a bit, but only recently in the big press:
Teachers banned from Twitter after indiscreet tweet

Basically, based on a parent complaint about a teacher's 'indiscreet' Tweeting, the ed leadership of one rural community in Scotland has banned the use of Twitter by all teachers.

Never mind that 'indiscreet' here can be taken as a relative term. Never mind that the teacher may very well have been 'wasting time' on Twitter. Never mind whether or not what she Tweeted was 'appropriate'. The crux of this story concerns the nature of transparency and the inability by the authorities to handle the situation without resorting to draconian (and very 20th century-style top-down) limits on professional individual engagement with the global network.

In other words, the reaction of the authorities to the questionably questionable use of social networking by an individual has resulted in the suppression of individual freedoms extended to all.

This is the perfect example of why we need more and not less engagement with social media in the workplace. Because this is a case that stems from social-media-ignorance.

While for many Twitter amounts to a simple way to waste time, in the right hands and put to educational and professional development purposes, Twitter is the most powerful medium for the maintenance of a personal-learning and idea-sharing network that the Net currently offers.

We have the obligation to teach our communities the value of this network.

Rather than ban Twitter, the higher-ups in the Scottish case would have done better for themselves and their community by asking the teacher to educate the parents, students, and admins on how Twitter works and what its benefits are to education and professional development.

And I stand by what I stated in comments to the article:
There are lots of opportunities to waste time on Twitter. Just like there are lots of opportunities to waste time in the faculty lounge. But there are also many ways to use social media to connect to a much larger conversation.

Rather than blocking and filtering, we should be engaging and sharing in the conversation. It will at times be mundane; but it will at times be inspiring. Get with it, this is the 21st century; we're connected. That's just the way things are.

We as teachers are the ones whose role it is to educate communities, families, authorities, administrators, teachers, peers, and students about the value of social networks, social media, and participatory engagement with the Web. We are the only ones who will make the Scottish case an aberration rather than the norm.


  1. I just love this post because I agree 100% with it. This is a useful post to argue with people who want to ban some web 2.0 tools. Thank you!


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