restrictions on media in schools

I am in the Media Lab at MIT. (A very cool place, at least for geeks like me, although the supremely sophisticated cappuccino maker yielded only steam, and the auto-produced music in the elevator was yucky.)

We heard a lot today about laws and policies–federal, state, and local–that seek to prevent harmful uses of new media in educational settings. These policies are aimed at cyber-bullying, sexual harassment by teachers, privacy violations, and kids watching porn in science class. Blanket prohibitions are common; for instance, [schools will say:] no online videos in classrooms, or teachers may not use social media to contact students.

I recognize the risks, but as my colleagues here have noted, policies are unbalanced. Schools get no encouragement, authorization, or pressure to include new media in education. Some online videos are harmful or inappropriate, but some are great. A teacher who uses text to contact students could possibly harass them, but he or she could also help them. So long as all the directives from above are designed to avoid risks, schools are going to be very reluctant to innovate and incorporate the new media into education.