Incident One. I received an unsettling email from our high school media specialist last week. "For the first time this year," he wrote, "all our loaner Chromebooks have been checked on the same day." This is terrible, I thought, kids are losing, forgetting, breaking, not charging, etc their 1:1 devices in huge numbers! The naysayers were right about kids not being responsible enough to be issued a computer! The Luddites have won the day!
Then I asked how many loaner Chromebooks were available. 18. So out of 2600 kids fewer than 18 forgot, broke, didn't charge, lost etc. their device until that fateful day. That's, uh, let's see 18 divided by 2600 - just a bit more than 1/2 of 1% of kids did not having a working device on any given school day.
I call that miraculous.
Incident Two. In an attempt to figure out what is sucking up our Internet bandwidth recently, we've been looking carefully at usage logs. Snapchat usually appears among the top five web applications that are eating our bandwidth. And the lack of bandwidth seems to be creating some major problems with kids using some reading and math intervention programs (Read180 and System44) so there is some urgency to finding a solution to better network throughput. So we discussed blocking Snapchat.
We had not previously blocked social networking or communication tools in the district. Part of our school district's mission is to help kids become "real world ready" and social networking besides having business and educational uses* is a part of the real world, like it or not. Blocking social networking tools from school networks disenfranchises students who cannot afford personal Internet access. (See The Neglected Side of Intellectual Freedom.)
We did not block Snapchat.
Is there a relationship? I've long argued that if school technology is only permitted for academic uses, students will begin treating it with no more respect than a textbook. I can't get into the LMS or digital textbook or word processor when my device is not charged? - big deal.
Ah, but if forgetting my device at home means I can't communicate with my peers, can't search the latest fashions or movie reviews or sports scores, and can't read on topics of personal relevance and interest, I will be careful with that magic box.
By allowing kids to use technology in meaningful and enjoyable ways, we are increasing the likelihood of kids taking better care of their tech. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
OK, have at me...
*Yes, Snapchat has non-recreational uses:
Hejazi, Aria and James Zhuang Snapchat metamorphizes education. The Epitaph, December 12, 2105.
Nussey, Virginia. 15 Tips on How to Use Snap Chat for Business, Bruce Clay Inc, 10/28/2016