Levinson, Matt. (2009-2010, February). Keeping the peace. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=February_No_5_4&Template=/MembersOnly.cfm&NavMenuID=4495&ContentID=25237&DirectListComboInd=D
In Keeping the Peace, Matt Levinson discusses the impact of the use of the one to one laptops and installation of the iChat that were introduced in his school. He especially makes a note of the fact that "the baby boomers seem to see technology as information and communication. Their offspring and the emerging generation seem to see the same devices as entertainment and socializing." As we continue reading the article, we see how the students soon took advantage of the access and started to use the iChat frequently. The school ended up having to put a stop to the use of the lap tops and iChat due to disruptions in class and outside of the class rooms. This decision turned into turmoil since some parents believed the use of the iChat had opened up the playing field for their children and the use of it. For some children that did not have much time to socialize outside of school, this became their medium for socializing. It also became an issue of parenting and who is to make the decisions regarding the use of the laptops; school or each individual parent and household? Most students thought it was a great idea to have the laptops for use while some welcomed the idea that the school itself made the decision to just shut down the use of it.
The use of the lap tops seems like a great opportunity for the students, especially the students that don’t have access to a computer. However, the use of iChat in school does not seem like a good idea, especially when we are talking about middle school children. The fact that the school did put a stop to it, I believe is their decision. The parents can’t decide if the school should use such a communication tool for the children or not. However, at home each individual parent can decide if their child can use iChat or not. It is interesting to see how they started out introducing these laptops with the idea for the students to have access to technology and information and instead the students used the laptops and iChat as an entertainment and socializing devise. It is each household’s responsibility to monitor their own children’s use of the computer. However, I think it is a good idea before you introduce new tools of communication in school to perhaps have some guidelines to follow. The established guidelines that they took into effect are a very good starting point.
Should iChat be used as a means for communication and socialization in replacement for personal face to face relationships with peers?
It seems kind of odd to me that a parent would think iChat and the use of a lap top is a great way for a child to socialize; if there is no time left during the day to otherwise socialize with friends and peers. If a child is so busy in other activities that they don’t have time to meet with other children except for on the go while moving from one activity to the next, perhaps it is time for a time out and revisit what is important. I still believe the regular face to face contact children have with peers is very important. You need to make time to meet with each other and not only talk over the net. It seems many children today are in their homes just communicating online with each other rather than meeting and talking face to face. Face to face communication is very important. Online communication becomes very distant…all though it is a great way to communicate when we can’t meet the people we hold dear.
Was the question of whether to use the iChat a question of freedom of speech or freedom of expression?
I think the question was not so much a question of freedom of speech. Freedom of expression is more close to the issue the administration of this particular school was facing. “The freedom to seminate, information and ideas, but three further distinct aspects: the right to seek information and ideas; the right to receive information and ideas; the right to impart information and ideas.” By giving the students the laptops to use for communication and the iChat that came with it they gave them an opportunity to exercise their own distinct ways to seek information and to develop ideas. Ones the administration felt they no longer used the tools correctly then, they put a stop to it. I don’t believe the school took away the freedom of expression by limiting and changing the rules for how this medium was to be used. When we have been given the opportunity to use a medium we also need to learn how to use it respectfully and when it no longer serves its purpose, such as in the school setting, then I believe the school can change the rules for how to use it. If you provide the tool then you have the right to guide the way for how to use it too.