Conditions for Learning

Maintaining a safe and ethical school environment in a social media age.

GUEST COLUMN | by Michelle Vroom

CREDIT eSchoolViewTheir voices can be loud and their stares intimidating. Hatred is laced in their messages. And, in some cases, their impact can intensify because the attacks are made in a seemingly private space behind the glare of cell phone or tablet.

Bullies have been around longer than the one-room school house and always seem impervious to treating their peers with respect.

Bullying (and cyberbullying, more specifically in the edtech arena) prevention can come from a school or district that embraces technology and social tools then models positive, influential behavior. Teachers and principals can encourage students to use their smartphones and tablets as tools of engagement rather than weapons of attack.

Safe, nurturing environments produce engaged students who challenge themselves and others to excel. 

Safe, nurturing environments produce engaged students who challenge themselves and others to excel. Students are less apt to take risks and explore new ideas in settings where they feel threatened or alone.

Enter digital citizenship and the critical role leading-by-example plays. Integrating electronic devices and tools into a classroom setting opens a world of possibility for our students.

Technology is a major player in both the promotion of cultures of positive acceptance and abandoning isolation. Our job as educators is to establish proper rules of use and clearly defined consequences for misuse and abuse.

We have the opportunity to use technology to build open environments that foster constructive collaboration and learning. Grants and dollars allocated by state governments are helping more and more districts across the nation implement alert systems to send immediate messages to first responders and district personnel during emergencies and potential crises.

We truly can put technology to use to listen to the voices we haven’t heard — in more ways than contributions in the classroom. We can use the power of discovery to create a way for those hurting to tell us just how they need help.

Michelle Vroom is a communication strategist with eSchoolView. Tools like eSchoolView’s Instant Connect (a Cool Tool Finalist) assist students, teachers, administrators and parents in stomping out instances of bullying in and around schools and maintaining a constructive, collaborative learning environment.

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