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Teaching safe social networking skills

This seems like a good idea.

The all-boys San Antonio Academy has long used an internal e-mail system provided by a company called Gaggle. So when Gaggle launched the Social Learning Wall application this year, the private academy’s administrators jumped at the opportunity to train their students on safe and respectful social networking techniques. The social wall allows students to create profiles that can be viewed internally and be filtered and monitored for content.

“Does it not make sense for us to help prepare (students) for the world they’re already facing and help teach them to avoid pitfalls that could cost them dearly?” Head of School John Webster said after reflecting on reports of people who had lost jobs or marred reputations through inappropriate social networking.

The academy has about 350 students in pre-K through eighth grade. But only the 200 or so fourth-graders through eighth-graders are allowed to use the social wall, Webster said.


If students do get into trouble, Webster said there will be consequences. For example, a student may lose e-mail or social wall privileges for a week or two for spreading an inappropriate joke. But Webster said using the site is meant to be a learning experience where any missteps taken will be in the contained school environment.

Linda Gielen, the academy’s technology facilitator, monitors the site. Gielen said thus far she has only had to speak with students about such things as using too many exclamation points, rambling or typing in capital letters.

Frankly, just teaching proper use of the CAPS LOCK KEY makes this a worthwhile effort to me. I don’t know how practical this would be for a public school to attempt, but I’m glad to see someone is thinking about it nonetheless.

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