I am in a school with a newly strict policy on social networking. Although I know my headmaster wants to be more proactive, I would like to gather some evidence, real and anecdotal, to help support the proposal to use the networking software instead of running away from it.
We don't block facebook and other social networking sites. For the most part, this works for us. It doesn't mean our students aren't off task periodically, but I wouldn't point to facebook/social networks as the reasons for off task behavior in these circumstances. If the student didn't have networked technology at her disposal, I'm sure she would be off task via day-dreaming or in some other manner.
I've been at schools that block/filter heavily and now I'm at a school that only blocks the obvious (hate, porn, gambling). The cat-mouse games that proliferate in filtered environments prevent us from meaningful opportunities to learn together. Last Friday we had a group of students in our office who were playing farmville...they were talking all about it and openly sharing with us. We had a fun dialogue and I learned alot...this certainly wouldn't have happened in a filtered environment where this relevant and meaningful platform was blocked.
We don't block facebook at our school. I actually just did a history research paper with my students where they created Facebook fan pages for early 19th century reformers. Anyway, during class, when kids are using their computers, I circle around the room periodically and make sure my students are on task. During study halls or after school, they are certainly on FB and other sites. I think that they will have to navigate these "temptations" and "distractions" soon in college, so they might as well deal with them now.
Thanks for your input! We have a liberal filtering policy which only blocks, porn, gambling and hate sites. My teachers have been upset because they do not want to be the Facebook "police". We set up a disciplinary OU that restricts access to any fun sites for any student caught in class (2 weeks). I asked the teachers not to disrupt class, but just to send me a list of names of those she suspected. We can check the logs and act on it if guilty. For some reason, they don't do that and just complain. My admissions director was sick to her stomach last week when a very bright academically inclined student spoke with her after shadowing. She said that she had been excited to attend a school that had such a great reputation as an academically challenging one, but that after she spent the day watching all of the freshmen on Facebook even during classes, she wasn't interested. Yikes!! I have to pedal fast to defend my position now!