The behemoth social network Facebook recently released Groups for Schools to colleges. How long do you think it will be before such a service is made available for high schools, and then middle schools?
Schools who have been in denial about social media, blocking it at the IT level, discouraging it via Student and Employee Acceptable Use Policies, debating it in school board and anguished PTA meetings, better get their heads out of the sand (or body orifices) and recognize that Facebook and similar social networking services are coming to their school, whether they like it or not. They are no longer politely knocking on the door, they are knocking the door off its hinges.
The implications for schools are profound. Already a daily part of the lives of millions of teens (and pre-teens who either lie about their age to get accounts, or whose parents create accounts for them), Facebook is part pastime, part passion, part gossip channel, part group aggregator, and part barometer of world opinion. It has more ongoing relevance to the lives of students than any learning management system, school intranet, or email system and to school’s ignore it at their peril.
How might a Facebook presence in your school change the equation? Here are several thoughts.
- IT departments, many of whom are already moving services from their on-campus data centers to the Cloud may find that other services, such as file sharing, calendar services, and email can be accommodated by Facebook.
- School groups, such as alumni (currently not a part of Facebook’s Groups for Schools venture), colleges, parents and teachers that are currently not commonly part of the same service may find themselves within a tech ecosystem surrounded by permeable membranes.
- Similarly, school and non-school lives may become more enmeshed, challenging our notions of privacy and boundaries.
- Creative Commons and other alternative means of licensing intellectual property may become more commonplace, or (gasp!) the U.S. copyright, patent, and trademark laws may end up needing to be re-conceptualized for a 21st century audience of consumers, producers, and re-mixers of every conceivable type of media.
- Some teachers who are a bit slow on the uptake my find themselves discomfited at best, and irrelevant at worst, by paradigms and tools that they neither use nor care to learn.
Thomas Paine famously quipped “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” What will your school do when Facebook knocks on the door with groups for high schools?