Yesterday I was excited to perform a Foursquare check in at my children’s school, but much to my demise, the site was blocked (Auughhh!). I then checked my gmail account and wondered, out of curiosity, if I could get on Google Plus. Surprisingly I could, realizing that for the school to shut down Google Plus they would have to block Google all together, including that major backbone—Google search. Hmmmm, what a conundrum the school board must feel over this.
Does this mean we smirk at institutions who block social sites and go our merry way interacting, no holds barred, on Google Plus? No, it does not. However, as you may or may not have come into contact with these restrictions where you work (or your children attend classes), these social media ‘restrictions’ are becoming increasingly more painful (and I believe detrimental to educational and professional development).
Ten years down the road, the ITs and policy makers at these institutions may wake in a cold sweat regretting the fact they COMPLETELY blocked the social web. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there is a place for social media monitoring with children. We cannot let them freely interact with just anyone—we need to be engaged with students and help them discover the benefits of social networking. Here are three specific reasons I believe social media should not be completely restricted:
- The reliance on social media for relationships and business will only grow more important – As social media is becoming more and more intertwined with higher education and business, individuals are going to be expected to have more of a grasp on these mediums when looking for employment.The true innovators of the web—young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and many other change agents under thirty years old have more than likely been inspired or learned tricks of their trade from online communities, not just the unlinked classroom.
- Institutions choosing to block social media on the inside, yet utilizing it on the outside to promote themselves is a bold, hypocritical move – Why hire a social media marketing agent or encourage a staff member to socially promote to the outside world when no person internally can utilize it? Do the online conversations that brought that new student or employee into the company have to stop the moment they set foot in the door?
- If computer Internet use is being taught to kids in schools, why, must I ask, do school administrators feel they must cut access to the most up-to-date resources discovered mainly through social media? – How do we discover the latest news, breakthroughs, and changes in society today? Pulling the plug on properly accessed feeds like Twitter will tend to put young students ‘in the dark’ when it comes to learning how to stay current. Teachers, I am sure, are interacting with each other via social networks and even obtain lesson plan ideas via links to videos and articles from social channels. Must I say more.
The launch of Google Plus has seemingly caught many institutions by surprise, leaving them to scratch their heads at how to throttle this new platform. How school boards choose to move forward with this dilemma, whether to block Google all together or realize they must take more of a proactive teaching stance on the integration of social media remains to be seen.
For now, this battle over who and when people interact on social networks inside institutional walls is percolating new questions and new issues that will not be easily answered.