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J-D considers using Facebook, Twitter to its advantage

Facebook, Twitter and other social networking services have proven powerful communication tools worldwide, and following other area districts, the Jamesville-DeWitt School District is taking steps to more fully embrace and monitor the use of such tools in its education.

During the district's Nov. 1 school board meeting, board members established a committee on social media to examine policies adopted in other districts in the Syracuse area. The committee members, Board President Ginnie Murphy and Jack McLoughlin, will present their findings throughout the winter to the rest of the board, and will make recommendations to the district regarding new and existing policies.

"Our committee will review the current use of social networking sites and help to create guidelines that will address content integrity, ethical obligations and legal standards, disciplinary sanctions, and compliance with other district policies," Murphy said. "We will also make a recommendation as to creating, or not, an official district presence on these social networking sites."

Murphy said that while many teachers, coaches, choral directors and clubs already use the networking site Facebook to keep in touch with students about meeting times and club events, the district does not have an officially sanctioned and maintained page.

J-D Technology Coordinator Philip Luckette said the district does not currently provide its students access to social networking sites from school computers, due to the distraction associated with the "social" side of social networking and concerns about cyber-bullying.

"If we expand our social networking use, we need policies that prepare us to react properly to new issues as they come up," Luckette said. "A lot of the bullying problems we've seen start outside of school and spill over into the school setting. Although we haven't seen problems here, good educators are always prepared."

Luckette said the district utilizes an internal networking service called Blackboard, which offers a controlled environment teachers can use to keep in touch with their students. "We even have a chemistry teacher that holds review sessions online," Luckette said.

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