Lawsuits and Web 2.0

Will Richardson seems a bit concerned about the “Tops” lack of understanding, when it comes to high level officials. I wonder though if Brad Jupp isn’t correct. I mean there are two major undiscussed issues here.

The first is, “What Lawsuits?” Can anybody actually find a lawsuit related to blogging or the use of wikis? I couldn’t upon a 5 minute Google search. All I could find is a student suing their old principal for discipline related to cyberbullying on Facebook. It seems like every reference to a pending lawsuit had to do with social networking…interesting.It would seem to me that the bigger problem is two-fold. First, in most cases schools have a ineffective or outdated policies for dealing with students/staff use of the web. Second, there is a major generational gap between how adults and teens/kids view the use of the Internet and what constitutes public.

Now is the time that school districts should update their AUP policies. Most important is that these policies are updated with a group of students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Each group looks at Web 2.0 applications through a different lens and it is a chance to set expectations for their use by all interested parties. Having a defined set of policies related to these technologies makes it much easier to handle the occasional problem that may come up from their use.

Now is also time to do some work to bridge the generational gap. It is important that educators using these tools understand how they are preceived by youth. Of course this is a two way street and using these tools is also a great time for educators to share important information about why privacy is important, the permanacy of the web, and the web is not as anonymous as you may think.

Finally, I think that teachers, administrators, and school IT departments need to look at the “free” Web 2.0 applications and decide why do we actually want this tool? What is the pedagogy driving instruction with these tools?

Part two of this issue is whether or not you need to use public Web 2.0 apps at all. There are some many incredibly easy to setup and use open source Web apps out there today. Any IT director worth a dime can have these systems up and running in no time. Most importantly these tools can almost always be tied to a directory server which makes user management a snap.

Using these tools a district can host it’s own social networking (Elgg or Buddypress), wikis (Deki Wiki), and blogs (WordPress or Moveable Type). Educators get the advantage of these powerful tools, while administrators and IT directors get to have the control they need. Give you students some training wheels before they set off on the information superhighway.

Basically, it comes down to the basic issue of control and accountability. In a K-12 school environment you have to have both and the only way to do this is keep you Web 2.0 services in house.

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