Social Networking Guide for Parents

As part of my regular professional development, I have a group of education technology professionals I follow on Twitter.  Through following this group of people, I learn about what they are reading and viewing and how they are applying this to their schools. 

facebook-good-badOne site that came up recently is Facebook for parents by BJ Fogg, Professor at Stanford University.  I thought that this site was informative and has a realistic view of social networking for parents.

Social networks are here to stay.  Our job is to help our children make good decisions about how the use them.  I encourage you to discuss social networking use with them. 

Here are a few videos of Professor Fogg from the Stanford Facebook Fan Page that you might find interesting:

BJ Fogg to the very first Stanford Open Office Hours. The conversation starts here (part 1), continues here (part 2), and finishes here (part 3). 

For more resources, you can follow my Internet Safety links on Delicious.


Your AUP on Social Networking – Our Results

Back in the spring I wrote about my school’s work trying to add a line about responsible use of social networking in our AUP. We had some great conversations with our faculty, students, and administrative team and ended up with the following statement:

I will maintain common, face-to-face social conventions and boundaries to avoid circumstances which are or could be perceived as inappropriate while using social networking, blogs, or any other interactive websites. 

In this statement, we didn’t ban Social Network sites but warned against their inappropriate use.  In our student and faculty/staff  handbooks we define the social norms we expect from community members.

So not perfect, but a good start.  Thanks to all that commented on my original post.  I am always amazed at how quickly the experts in this field find and comment on posts like this one. 

Let’s keep this conversation going.  What does your AUP state about social networking?

If You Started a School, What Would the Theme Be?

As I’ve been exploring the theme of Disruptive Innovation and its implications new-school for schools in the next 10-15 years, I have imagined that there will be opportunities for new schools to replace some of the schools that have not changed.  Over the weekend, I was thinking about what the theme of a school that I would like to work at would be.  I found this exercise surprisingly difficult so, in order to generate some brainstorming energy, I asked my twitter network.  Here are the replies:

  • gardenglen @alexragone My theme for a school “Digital environment promoting student inquiry and collaboration.”
  • ernestkoe @alexragone what a great question…the love of learning, as cheesy as that sounds
  • andrewjkatz @alexragone flexibility.
  • momcginn The theme would be Belonging.
  • agrill @alexragone collaborative spaces, good citizens and inquiry.
  • pgow @alexragone (1) Think it should be sustainability, although the word is getting a bit shop-worn. Maybe “dignity, equity, and continuity.”
  • pgow @alexragone (2) Lots of place-based teaching: thematic, interdisciplinary, skill-focused units; civic and social engagement as  possible.

As I was thinking about this topic, I thought about science, innovation, and invention.  I was not happy with any of those.  This is a difficult task, especially when thinking about changing a system that has been around for so long.  I  found myself thinking about the skills that students should have upon graduation, but those skills could fit into many of these themes.

So I ask you, if you could create a school, what would it’s theme be?

Phtoto from:

Your AUP on Social Networking?

At my school, we’re looking at what our school policy on social networking between students and faculty should be.

Our initial inclination was to create a restriction between students and faculty ‘friending’ each other on social networks. arvind and I have discussed this on our webcast a number of times. For example: here and here.  But then the exceptions happen:

1. I have used Flickr, a photo social network to collaborate with my students in photography.
2. Our student environmental club has used Facebook groups and invitations to plan events between students, faculty and parents.

Given the positives that can come out of social networks, does anyone have a policy that rides the appropriateness of use tight rope?

Your thoughts/comments are appreciated.


Here are some general AUP resources I have collected on the subject:

School Computing Wiki:

David Warlick has recently jumped into this conversation: and

Photo from:

Social Networking from Faculty and Student Perspectives

Over the past two weeks arvind and I have discussed Social Networking on our webcast over at EdTechTalk.  The first show consisted of us discussing facebook social networks from the faculty perspective based on the Ohio Education Association’s recommendation that educators delete the social networking  accounts.  Here is the first show: 21st Century Learning #58: A Discussion of the Issues Surrounding Social Networking Between Faculty and Students

The second week we were excited to have four students join in the myspaceconversation.  They mostly agreed that it was a good idea to keep some separation between school and our personal lives but had some great insights into how these different media are merging — including the thought that teachers and students might be blackberry texting each other before long.  Here’s a link to the second show: 21st Century Learning #59: Students Discussing Social Networking between Faculty and Students.

I think that these two pieces are a good orientation to social networking for faculty and administrators around the world.  If you’re interested in this topic, you might also want to check out: EdTechTalk #80 with Tom Wood, cyber safety advocate

What do you think? What would you add or subtract?  What social networking resources do you use?

Circumventing the Great Firewall

This morning, I was at home with my daughter, Claire, who was sick.  I checked my  Twitter feed.  Jeff Utecht asked if someone could send him the K-12 Online Conference Presentations.  Apparently, they are blocked in China.  I direct Twittered him back telling him I could, and forgot about the interaction. 

A few minutes later, Jeff send me a Skype text message.  After a short im session, we decided that Jeff would create a ftp account on his server and I would upload the K-12 files for the next two weeks.  I had uploaded all of the files to Jeff’s server by 10:30 am EST — I believe that’s 12:30am in Jeff’s time zone in China.

What’s the point of this post? 

First of all, you can’t block everything, and in countries that allow Internet communications, there will always be a way to work around the filters.   Great as that is,  I was worried that the Chinese  government might find Jeff and shut down his server if I blogged about it.  I checked with Jeff and he reassured me that it would not be a problem. 

Second, is that always amazes me how small technology can make the world feel.  The fact that I was chatting with someone around the world was amazing. The fact that I was conscious of the differences in freedom between the US and China and was able to get feedback about the realities on the ground.  

Just one more story of how the web has brought us closer together.

Drupal Multi-Site for School Communications

I’m working on setting up a Drupal Multi-Site Configuration to create sites that allow division specific blogging and password protecting of certain sites in the multisite configuration. Here’s the configuration I’m looking at:

1. Three column theme custom made for collegiate with site navigation on the left and organic group navigation on the right. Stories in the center. This will allow for group specific pages on the right hand navigation.
2. Image upload/gallery support
3. Tabs with the different group pages for the site on the top navigation. As I create the organic groups, this can be part of the configuration.
4. LDAP enabled so all usernames and passwords are based on my school’s active directory — and teachers and students don’t have to remember another login.

So by going with the Multi-Site configuration I can have different sites but manage only one Drupal codebase. We’re already running DrupalEd. This ill be a separate site, but the base site will be

We will then create: – for course pages in DrupalEd – for Lower School class pages – for school club pages

Some other ideas: for department specific pages. for personal blogs. Or we can continue to use our wordpress my site at

So I have a couple of questions.

1. What do I gain with Drupal over WordPress MU? My quick answer is tabbed pages so they are easy to tab through and navigate. New posts aggregated onto one front page. You loose the beautiful WordPress interface.

2. Do I use Organic Groups or just filter pages by tags as we do at EdTechTalk? I think I want to use organic groups (og) because that will allow me to have specific og blocks on the group pages, allowing for special link and download blogs, right?

Some other ideas include:

Aggregate specific feeds onto specific sites. NYTimes on to club pages, Kids news onto the lower school page.

I’m also going to need a custom theme. I may just decide to tweak one, but this sounds like a good place to outsource. I’ve had some issues with IE and Firefox with the Default DrupalEd theme. Hopefully we’ll be able to fix that.

This has been a rambling post. Lots to think about here.

Having fun creating this site. Will hopefully be even more fun as we get going.