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Anne Arundel Debating Use Of Social Media In Class

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(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

By SARA BLUMBERG
The CAPITAL OF ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Teachers and students may have something new they can “like” about the Anne Arundel County school board.

On Wednesday, the Board of Education will get a first look at two proposals that would end a ban on Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the classroom. The policies address the appropriate use of social media for students and teachers. While school officials recognize the importance of new media, they have concerns about how to bring them into the curriculum.

School spokeswoman Maneka Monk said the policy is just one step toward creating guidelines and implementing them.

“We are hoping things will be finished by the start of next year,” she said.

A draft of the policy calls for school officials to provide access to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “solely for instructional purposes.” Students caught misusing social media could be reported by school administrators to the Office of Safe and Orderly Schools.

The policy also prohibits direct communication between students and teachers, except when monitored by school officials.

Teachers will be able to use social media, as long as it fosters the “legitimate exchange of information” among colleagues, parents and the community, according to the draft guidelines.

Under the policies, educators would be be free to develop school-related social media sites as long as they are approved by school administrators.

While they would be free to have their own “personal media presence” outside of the classroom, teachers would not be able to use the media to communicate with students in any “improper or inappropriate” way.

Currently, county schools ban all forms of social media within schools. In December, student leaders from the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils voted to support using these media in classrooms.

The platform adopted by the association said lifting the ban would foster “education in real time.”

Not all students agree with lifting the ban.

Elizabeth Jarell, who graduated from Meade High School in 2011, said social media were always part of her education.

“I don’t feel that increasing social media would have helped me,” she said. “I had enough trouble focusing during the school day as it was. I find social media is distracting within the classroom.”

Jarrell added she recognized the importance of social media as a way to stay informed about events at the school.

Monk said school officials from nearly a dozen offices worked to draft the policies.

The board will meet at 10 a.m. at school board headquarters, 2644 Riva Road near Annapolis.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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