North Star Take: A New Approach to the Web

Once upon a time there was a high school where students were allowed to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even educational websites. The teachers were technologically competent, used social media to connect with other schools and demonstrated how to use the Internet responsibly.

Teachers gave students online freedom. If students made mistakes, teachers would correct them, guiding them back to focus. No unsafe students. No parent complaints. No bandwidth issues.

It seems as though this place could never exist, at least never in FHSD, but it does. It’s a magical land called Chanhassen High School in a faraway kingdom called Minnesota.

In this district, administrators trust students with social media. They don’t mistakenly assume students will abuse it because they are confident in the education they have provided. There, administration does not ignore such a pertinent aspect of students’ lives because they realize that each year, more careers require social networking knowledge. Social media is now a practical skill for the real world. Because it is a skill that is becoming as common as typing, it has naturally been incorporated into their curriculum.

Chanhassen uses their resources wisely. They allow students to access the plethora of knowledge in YouTube videos, tweets and blogs. There are whole other magical lands out there to connect with in a single tweet or Facebook status. Perhaps FHSD could connect with Chanhassen online. After all, FHSD does have a Twitter account.

FHSD could invite successful social media users from faraway places to help bring itself out of the Dark Ages of Technology and unblock YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. If all goes well, maybe teenagers can overcome archaic Facebook statuses like “My mom sucks” and tweets like “#DTF >”, entering into a new era of Enlightenment. The cost of bandwidth expansion and possible exposure to inappropriate material is insignificant in the grand scheme of things in the District. What students can get out of social media is much bigger than stumbling across a nude picture (which happens even with the strictest Internet filter in place) and the money for a bandwidth upgrade.

Social media can no longer be looked upon as a danger to the kingdom. Students benefit from resources they find through social networks now and, in the long run, gain knowledge to responsibly manage their unique social media presence. Maybe, just maybe, FHSD can one day pride itself in being a majestic kingdom like Chanhassen.