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Student Behavior With Technology


During the site visit to one school, two girls who were good friends became embroiled in a tiff and exchanged angry e-mail notes which included insulting language. Their teacher and the technology coordinator reviewed the messages and planned the counseling that they would give the girls.

At another school where the students had been involved in a special program to teach skills for working with others and giving constructive criticism, e-mail messages showed the pains that students took to give "helpful, thoughtful" comments rather than put-downs for ideas developed by others.

One of the high schools participating in ShareNet had a formal technology use policy which provided an honor code for use of equipment and the network. Both teachers and students (in separate focus groups) reported that the policy worked well overall.

There were significant problems with misuse of technology at one of our case study sites, a school where the general school climate had deteriorated to such an extent that students and teachers appeared mistrustful of each other and of their respective peers. Students evidenced a great deal of concern about their passwords. One student said that he used a 55-letter password in order to protect his files. Students said that destruction of their computer files at the hands of other students was an ongoing concern. Students reported also that teachers limited their use of telecommunications because of problems with student hacking.

The fact that this school's experience was so atypical within our case study sample suggests that technology access does not in and of itself lead to a hacker mentality, but it does provide a cautionary tale suggesting that school communities need to develop, promulgate, and enforce codes of conduct for technology use.


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