NJ Courts embrace social media while schools try to find the line

Not only are campaigns, governmental entities and businesses embracing social media, the NJ Courts have gone high tech as well. They are using rss feeds, text message and they’re on twitter too:

Court users can sign up for breaking news alerts via short message service (SMS) text alerts on their cell phones.  Users sign up for the service through a link on the Judiciary home page, njcourts.com.  The text messages will announce unscheduled court closings and other high priority information so that users who are not in the office or at home in front of their computers will receive the information in real time on their cell phones.  The Judiciary also has begun using Twitter to send short “tweets” about breaking court news.  To sign up for either of these options, users can click on the SMS or Twitter links on the Judiciary home page.  Those links will take them to the appropriate Web sites to sign up for those services.

They’re also on Facebook:

Facebook users can join the group “New Jersey Courts” to see press releases, court information and photos of court events. The Judiciary’s Facebook page is updated daily and the links can be shared with others who are not currently members of the group.

And they’re also using Youtube:

Finally, the Judiciary has begun posting videos on YouTube for court users to learn more about the courts.  Topics covered by the videos include the Judiciary’s mortgage foreclosure mediation program and the Veteran’s Assistance Project.  Future videos will address help available for self-represented litigants and volunteer opportunities.  To find video clips about the New Jersey courts, go to youtube.com/njcourts.  

Even ELEC is using youtube now. But while the courts and other entities are embracing these technological shifts, NJ schools are trying to draw some lines. Follow me below the fold for more on their struggles with social media.

In this age of technology, it seems that nearly everybody has a Facebook profile or a Twitter account. This includes teachers, principals and even superintendents. It’s how these people are using their social networking sites that’s of concern to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), who recently sent a letter out regarding staff, students and social networking.

“We’re in uncharted waters here,” said Dr. H Mark Stanwood, Gloucester County Superintendent of Schools. “We certainly recognize that it would be foolhardy to preclude staff from having or working with social networking sites because it’s such a big part of our culture.”

And even as they try to draw the line for others, the NJSBA utilizes facebook and  twitter accounts themselves. The concern seems to be more on the teacher/student interaction that can potentially occur:

Stanwood met with county superintendents last week and the concern of social networking sites did come up. The consensus was that these sites can be of educational use, but when it comes to personal information about teachers, students shouldn’t have access to that information, and vice versa.

“It’s the idea that teachers should be friendly and not friends,” said Frank Borelli, Delsea Regional’s superintendent.

“It’s approvable and appropriate but caution has to be there when it comes to your personal lives and your lives of your students,” Borelli said.

The NJSBA sent out a sample policy that school districts could use as guidelines on social networking Web sites, cell phone use and computer communication. It is ultimately the decision of the school to implement what rules they see fit.

And we still see questions about what is and isn’t appropriate etiquette for using social media in the political world. Would you be more likely to follow the courts now that these additional tools are available? Where do you think the line should be drawn for policies in schools? We really are in uncharted waters and will see alot of rules written before our eyes.

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