Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 23, 2012 - 8:42 am

Nunavut teachers complain about sudden at-school ban on social media websites

“Facebook is part of the lives of our students"

SAMANTHA DAWSON
If you're a teacher or student in a Nunavut school, you won't be able to access Youtube or Facebook on any school computer.
If you're a teacher or student in a Nunavut school, you won't be able to access Youtube or Facebook on any school computer.

Teachers and students in Nunavut schools can no longer gain access to popular social media websites when they’re at school.

That’s because the Government of Nunavut’s department of education recently banned the social media websites Facebook and Youtube from Nunavut schools to save bandwidth usage.

Robin Langill, the president of the Nunavut Teacher’s Association, said he’s unhappy that teachers weren’t informed about the decision beforehand.

Langill said he was out of his office, conducting training sessions in community schools, when he found out about the ban.

In schools outside Iqaluit, the ban “was brought up at every single meeting,” he said.

For all other GN workers, those social media websites are already restricted.

However, teachers need to gain access to these sites because “many teachers are using very current material off the net in their lessons,” he said.

And it’s a much more meaningful to pull up current Youtube videos than to not to use them, Langill said. 

Now teachers must use their internet connections at home if they want to download Youtube videos for class use.

“The complaint is ‘you can’t access it now, so now we have to do it at night at home,’” he said.

Teachers also told him it’s easier to show video clips in class than to tell students to watch them at home. That’s because teachers then know their students have watched the material, such as news clips about current events.

Using social media is also a way to engage students, Langill said.

Now, that won’t always be an option, and “that’s why teachers are upset,” he said.

As well, some schools have created Facebook pages to communicate with their students.

Now, they won’t be able to use them.

“Facebook is part of the lives of our students,” Langill argued.

Meanwhile, Nunavut teachers are “trying to work around” the decision and do the best that they can.

They say can’t use their preparation periods either to search for Youtube clips because that’s time-consuming and inconvenient, Langill said.

In spite of this, Langill said he understands how short-changed Nunavut is when it comes to internet bandwidth, and that schools do need to use the internet wisely.

But teachers should have been made aware of the policy change before it took place, he said.

“We, as representatives, should know about it before it is implemented,” Langill said.

In this case, it was “suddenly one day they couldn’t [access the sites].”

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