CoSN and Other Leading Education Groups Release New Report Aimed at Informing New Digital Media Use Policies in Schools: “Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media”

April 11, 2012

Washington, DC (April 9, 2012) – The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), today joined with 13 other leading education associations in releasing a new report aimed at helping inform and guide education decision makers as they revise policies related to the use of mobile technologies and social media in schools. The report, Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media, was produced by CoSN and the FrameWorks Institute. Collaborating national partners include the American Association of School Administrators, Common Sense Media, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Education Association, the National Writing Project, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the Student Press Law Center and the Technology Leadership Network of the National School Boards Association.

“Policymakers and educators are struggling to balance the educational opportunities that mobile technologies and social media can provide at school with legitimate concerns around providing a safe environment focused on learning. This document from leading education and state policy nonprofits aims to inform better decision making in state capitals and school boards and among educational leaders,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.

“Mobile technologies and social media, if leveraged appropriately, have the potential to maximize student learning and engagement, and transform the concept of the classroom from four walls to an interactive space where student-centered learning takes place,” said,” Frameworks Institute President Susan Bales. “While there are a variety of challenges, there are enormous opportunities, and if we – educators, technology leaders

and school decision makers – find ways to harness the power of these tools, the benefits to our young people and our education system are countless. There are also legitimate concerns that must be addressed, but they must be weighed against the potential benefits.”

The report includes the following key observations:

  1. The use of mobile Internet devices and social media by young people is widely prevalent. The use of student-owned mobile devices for classroom instruction is growing, and more schools are moving from policies that ban their use to integrating them into the classroom.
  2. Students and schools experience substantial educational benefits through the use of mobile devices and social media.
  3. There are legitimate concerns about the use of social media that need to be addressed.
  4. Current federal, state and local policies and procedures need modification or clarification in order to respond to current realities of expanded social media and mobile devices in schools.
  5. Equity is a vital issue to consider when establishing policy around social media and mobile technologies.

“Technology in the classroom can enhance what and how a student learns and helps teachers cater to the unique needs, skills, interests, and learning styles of their students,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “But educators must be provided with professional development in digital technology in order to learn how best to engage students in and out of the classroom using these tools. This is also an opportunity for parents and school personnel to work together to teach all students responsibility and how to make good decisions regarding the appropriate use of mobile devices.”

“In today’s world, most students are attached to mobile devices of some kind whether in or out of school. When policy and practice are aligned, the amazing possibilities presented by this fact surely outweigh the challenges. Creating that alignment is our first step,” said National Association of State Boards of Education Deputy Executive Director Bradley J. Hull, Ph.D.

“The rapid pace of technological developments and changing attitudes about appropriate ways to communicate online, personal privacy, and freedom of speech present school leaders and policy-makers with an evolving set of challenges from the classroom to the boardroom. Making Progress encourages thoughtful conversations before a crisis occurs so the promise and potential of these new tools will not be lost in the rush to try and right some unfortunate wrong,” said National School Boards Association Director of Education Technology Ann Lee Flynn, Ed.D.

“The first generation of policymaking around communication technology in schools has been built on a foundation of fear, and it’s time to push ‘reboot’ and institute ‘Policymaking 2.0’ built on facts and research instead. Education is something we do ‘with’ students and not something we do ‘to’ students,” said Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center Frank D. LoMonte.

“The Making Progress document supports a vision of schools that amplifies the use of mobile and connective technologies from restrictive or ‘acceptable’ to ‘responsible,’” said Bob Farrace, senior director for communications and development at the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“At Common Sense Media, we recognize how social media is changing and enriching the way kids learn and discover the world around them – both in and out of the classroom,” said Linda Burch, Chief Education and Strategy Officer of Common Sense Media. “We also know how important it is for districts to develop comprehensive policies to ensure that students can harness technology to its full potential, which includes arming students with the right skills and knowledge to use social media safely and responsibly.”

“Many young people are already active digital consumers, but school is often the place where they learn to be critical, reflective and powerful digital citizens. But to do that, students and teachers need to be able to read, write, search, and collaborate with broad access to wide range of web 2.0 tools,” said National Writing Project National Programs and Site Development Director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl.

“The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) supports CoSN’s work to help schools and school districts responsibly and effectively integrate mobile technologies and social media into the learning environment. As reinforced by the report, when used appropriately, these technologies can help students facilitate the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking skills and creativity, key 21st Century Skills all students need to succeed in college, life, and career. It is important to help students understand the power and potential peril of these new technologies as part of their overall information, media, and technology skills attainment,” said P21 Chair and VP of Education Networks of America Lillian Kellogg.

Making Progress is not a prescriptive policy statement; rather, it is intended to help inform policymakers and educators as they develop or reconsider policies addressing new digital media in the context of improved learning. The report was the outcome of a workshop convened by CoSN and the FrameWorks Institute in Washington, DC, in December 2011. This effort was made possible through a grant from the MacArthur- UCHRI Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine.

The report is part of CoSN’s Participatory Learning in Schools: Leadership & Policy initiative, which is based on the recognition that Web 2.0 tools provide powerful learning resources for children, thus preparing them for the world beyond the classroom. The overall initiative is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and sponsorships from Cable in the Classroom, Gartner, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lenovo, Lightspeed Systems, Pearson and Smart.

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About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit or phone 866.267.8747 to find out more about CoSN’s Leadership Initiatives, annual conference and events, policy and advocacy, membership, and resources.