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March 2011
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Trend Watch: Australian Teachers Granted Permission to Use Facebook in the Classroom

FacebookForEducators Yesterday the NSW Teachers Federation in Australia announced that public school teachers have been granted permission to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the classroom. Students are still blocked.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said the change would help improve communication between schools and their communities. It would also give staff a ''greater understanding of technology being used by students.'' 

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Bob Lipscombe, cautioned teachers to take care about who they became ''friends'' with on Facebook to ensure their professionalism was not compromised. He reminded teachers that any information they posted would be imprinted in the public domain.

But with careful use, social media should be embraced as ''part of the 21st century and something students and teachers need to be aware of.''

The Department of Education has developed a social media policy in consultation with school principals and teacher groups. The policy, which is available on the department's website, has been distributed to all public schools. The guidelines advise teachers to be honest, polite and considerate and to use common sense.

Social Media Guidelines for Teacher

Study: One in Four Young Adults Say the Education System Has Little to No Understanding of Their Values and Goals

image from As part of its commitment to education, Viacom partnered with The Associated Press to conduct "Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011," a groundbreaking study based on a combination of peer-to-peer interviews and a large-scale poll of more than 1,100 American 18-24 year-olds.

Viacom and The Associated Press approached the study by looking at 18-24 year-olds as "core consumers of education" and evaluating how the education system is meeting their needs.  

According to the study, young adults are optimistic that high schools and colleges can prepare them for the working world, but also feel these institutions aren't adapting quickly enough to meet students' changing needs.

As a result, more and more 18-24 year-olds are taking a less traditional approach to higher education, via self-directed curricula, internships and self-teaching.

Recognizing the important role young people can and should play in reaching their goals, Viacom launched Get Schooled, which provides the tools and guidance young adults need to succeed in today's competitive environment.

The full "Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011" study is available on the Get Schooled website at or on the Get Schooled Facebook Page.

According to the study, students are increasingly creating individual, self-tailored curricula by cherry picking schools and courses. They're also taking longer to graduate because they feel that, by combining school with work and internships, they stand a greater chance of finding a desirable job.

Young adults are relying more on themselves, their families and friends and less on community or religious organizations and high school counselors when it comes to education decisions.

Detailed findings from the study include:

  • Overall, 27 percent of young adults say the education system has little to no understanding of their values and goals. More than a third (36 percent) report it is ambivalent to their values and goals.
  • Only 37 percent say the education system mostly or completely understands them.
  • Among those surveyed with a high school diploma, but no college experience, 33 percent say the education system has little to no understanding of their values and goals.  

How College Leads to a Better Life is Unclear

The most consistent theme among those interviewed – from those with no college experience to those with bachelor degrees – is that college should prepare one to join the workforce.

But today's pragmatic, goal-oriented young adults are unsure that the education product being offered to them will deliver the job or career that they want.

  • More than half of young adults say it's more worth the money to get "an education that is focused on success in the world."

Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011

Facebook Safety & Security Center Update [VIDEO] Yesterday Facebook held a live discussion that highlighted the tools that Facebook offers parents, teachers and kids to protect themselves online.

The highlight of the event was the expansion of the Facebook Safety Center. The new Facebook Safety Center is full of multimedia and other resources with domain specific sections for Law Enforcement, Parents, Teachers and Teens.

Watch live streaming video from facebookeducation at


The other big news was an official announcement from Facebook about the 'Facebook for Educators' handbook that was co-written by Linda Fogg-Phillips, BJ Fogg and myself.

Linda also joined the live event to talk about teachers and Facebook. We are looking forward to getting this document to you and hearing your feedback! So stay tuned!

Safety on Facebook

Boys, the Media & Body Image: An Open Letter to @TheEllenShow

Hi Ellen.

A few weeks ago I was watching a rerun of the Ellen DeGeneres Show and saw the episode with your wife Portia de Rossi talking about her book ‘Unbearable Lightness.” It was a powerful interview. Sadly Portia’s story--the pressure to look a certain way, to be a certain weight--is very typical of what happens to many young women both in Hollywood and across the country.

As I read Portia’s book, I reflected on the similarities between her experience with eating disorders and the many kids/teens/tween--both boys and girls-- who are also impacted by these “perfect” body images they see in the media, video game and entertainment industries.

As you know, these portrayals only reinforce and fuel those negative body image ideas. Ultimately they become a part of a vicious circle of self hatred, low self esteem and unrealistic goals.

While there has been lots of media coverage and press about young girls/women regarding body image & eating disorders, there has been very little devoted to how the media effects boys. In many cases, boys are an understudied group with regard to body issues (dysmorphia, bigorexia).

image from Even as the media continues its obsession (yes, Twilight I’m looking at you) for the almighty 'six pack', boys have been gaining on girls in eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

So all of this had me thinking about how your show frequently has shirtless, very buff dudes on during various segments. I know it’s all done in fun--and without malice on your part--however it seems like a bit like a double standard.

In one segment you are talking about how the media fuels negative body image issues for women/girls and then in the next segment you fawn over celebrity abs or have a segment with shirtless guys.

What message does that send to a young, tween boy who’s watching your show after school?

I hope that you won’t take this as a criticism. It’s not. You have been a champion of kids and so many other issues. I admire how you have really used your high profile status to support so many, many social issues.

I really appreciate, in particular, you taking a stand on bullying. I was bullied so much in 6th grade that I had to leave school. At one point, as I was walking home from school, a bunch of kids stuck their heads out of the bus and showered me with their saliva. I know all too well how that stuff sticks with you well into adulthood. But I digress.... ;-)

I also work in the youth media/marketing world and know that we all struggle with these issues. It’s a tricky thing to find a balance between providing entertainment, marketing to kids and making sure that we think about the messages--intended or not--that we send to these kids.

I also felt that it was important that I raise this issue with you since have launched a music label (congrats!) that so far has signed artists that are primarily marketed towards a youth demographic. In doing so you will have an even more direct impact on young kids, tweens & teens.

I hope that you will take all this into consideration as you move both your TV show and music business forward. If you have any feedback, questions or need anything else, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Respectfully yours,


Additional Resources

Facebook Safety Live Event: Keeping Kids Safe Online

Facebook.safetyOn Tuesday, April 19 (9:30 am PST) Facebook Live will host a live discussion focused on Facebook’s latest efforts to keep people safe online. This is going to be a great event that highlights the tools that Facebook offers parents, teachers and kids to protect themselevs online.

Hear from a members of the Facebook Safety Team and safety educators Larry Magid, Co-director of, and Linda Fogg Phillips, Co-Author of Facebook for Parents and Facebook for Educators.

The event will also highlight several new initatives (nope, I can't tell you! But they are really slick!) including the project that I've been working on Facebook for Educators.

A few months ago Facebook asked BJ Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and Linda Fogg-Phillips, author of Facebook for Parents and an expert on parenting in the digital age and myself to collaborate on the Facebook for Educators project.

You'll hear more about that during the Facebook Safety event on Tuesday, but it's been a really exciting project to work on.

The team at Facebook are really committed to providing everyone, but especially teens and young adults, with a safe and secure experience when they are interacting on the world's biggest social network.

So be sure to tune in on Tuesday to get the latest news on Facebook's efforts to keep everyone safe online.

Related: Facebook Live: White House Conference on Bullying

North Carolina School Engages Tech Generation With Digital Learning Tools

Logo-pbs-newshour John Tulenko of Learning Matters, which produces education stories for the NewsHour, reports on a North Carolina school district switching from textbooks to all-digital learning materials.

My favorite quote is this piece comes from Mark Edwards, Superientendent of Schools in Mooresville, North Carolina:

"For years we would tell students "We will prepare you for your future." But their experience in school didn't have much to do (with the future).

I would say it would be the same to say "We are going to prepare you for driving a car, so get on this horse." And the kids say "That doesn't make sense, i'm not going to be riding a horse."

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.



Speak Up National Findings 2010: How Students Are Leveraging Technology for Learning

image from Earlier this month 2011 Project Tomorrow released the reportThe New 3 E’s of Education: Enabled, Engaged and Empowered – How Today’s Students are Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Learning” at a Congressional Briefing held in Washington, D.C..

The Speak Up 2010 project surveyed almost 300,000 students (along with 43,000 parents, 35,000 teachers, 2000 librarians and 3500 administrators) from over 6500 private and public schools last fall about how they're using - and how they want to be using - technology for learning.

Key findings:

  • 67 percent of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use for schoolwork if the school allowed it, and 61 percent said they liked the idea of students using mobile devices to access online textbooks.
  • 53 percent of middle and high school students reported that the inability to use cell phones, smart phones or MP3 players was the largest obstacle when using technology in school.
  • Additionally, 71 percent of high school students and 62 percent of middle school students said that the number one way schools could make it easier to use technology would be to allow greater access to the digital content and resources that Internet firewalls and school filters blocked.
  • Parents are increasingly supportive of online textbooks. Two-thirds of parents view online textbooks as a good investment to enhance student achievement compared to 21 percent in 2008. However, E-textbooks are still a relatively novel concept in the classroom. Slightly over one-third of high school students report they are currently using an online textbook or other online curriculum as part of their regular schoolwork.
  • Nearly 30 percent of high school students have experienced some type of online learning.

Speak Up National Findings 2010

The Survivors: YA Author Amanda Havard & Singer-Songwriter Chris Mann Team Up on 'Pretty Girl'

image from The Survivors is a new YA Fiction book series by Nashville-based author Amanda Havard set in Salem, Massachusetts during the peak of the Salem Witch Trials.

The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries.

Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family’s sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back. On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever.

The Survivors Transmedia Campaign

Music plays a big part in Havard's creative process and over on her website she shares the soundtrack that kept her writing mojo going.

For the first book in her series, Amanda teamed up with indie singer-songwriter (and Warbler #6 on Glee!) Chris Mann to record an original song based on the book.

The end result is "Pretty Girl" an anthem written by Amanda and masterfully recorded by Chris Mann.


What makes this series really interesting is the way that Havard has woven social media into both her own creative process as well as the reader's experience.

She has an exciting and new vision for YA Fiction that incorporates all types of media to share the story of The Survivors.

I'm in the process of interviewing Amanda, so I don't want to give too much away. But stay tuned!

Update: Here's my interview with Amanda on!

Related Resources