I have a homeroom class of grade 9 students this year and we talk often about what ‘digital footprint’ means along with the pros and cons of social media. I really like this video to prompt further conversations.
I have my own personal opinion when it comes to the idea of sharing personal or student’s work/information on social media, and I acknowledge that my personal opinion is neither right nor wrong (this is a very controversial topic). The past three debate topics in EC&I 830 have all been intriguing, but this week’s topic (educators sharing information online) frustrated me! I found myself frustrated because I agree with both sides of the conversation. I agree with Shelly, Esther and Kari, that sharing online increases connectivity with parents and the community and that it can help shape appropriate use of the internet creating smart digital citizens. However, I also agreed with Amy, Joe and Dani that ethically, posting and sharing things online can be dangerous, unsafe, and unfair to our students and families.
On one hand, we are encouraged as educators to incorporate, introduce, role model and guide the use of technology but on the other, fear is instilled in us regarding what is ethically appropriate and what is not. I am a rule follower (especially in professional environments) and without clear guidelines or policy indicating to me what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, I am not a risk taker. Although there are measures put in place to protect student’s privacy (such as parental consent forms for release of images), I have heard too many stories of teachers being reprimanded for posting something online that is deemed inappropriate by someone else. Also, there have been many active conversations surrounding privacy this year within school divisions. Collectively, myself and fellow colleagues have been told to delete any information that even hosts a child’s name off of our Google accounts and to have no paper or online documentation. How then can I convince myself to create an online presence that in return creates a digital footprint for my students? The debate topic this week definitely frustrated me because of this internal battle I am having.
I agree that fostering appropriate use of social media sites at school should definitely be discussed but also, what responsibility are we placing on parents? Right now, cell phones are being placed in the hands of children and adolescents who do not have the capacity, understanding or awareness of what is appropriate versus inappropriate. Social media sites and online games are open on almost every student’s phone, and many are continually searching for some sort of instant gratification whether it is a snap chat from a friend, a like on Instagram or a gold coin rewarded for winning a game.
To be honest, I try to stay current with advancements in technology but I struggle with it. Like Kristen mentioned in her blog, I am also hesitant and often times resistant to change. Because of my role within the high school I teach at, it is hard to implement and use technology in “cool and engaging ways” because I am not implementing curriculum and don’t have the flexibility to create new and exciting projects. Therefore, I found myself thinking “How does sharing students work promote growth for the student? To what extent are we exposing our students and creating a digital footprint for them in order to promote ourselves as teachers/professionals? Is this fair?”
When your intentions are good.. giphy.com
I realise this could be another controversial topic but unfortunately, sometimes we may be exposing our students for our own personal gain – to showcase what we are doing in our classrooms, how we are implementing inquiry based practices and so forth.
After reading the Forbes article in this week’s suggested readings, things were clarified for me. Dianne Forbes discusses in her paper that “teacher educators must look to make professional use of social media, before turning their attention to social media for student learning.” She also touches on learning communities and the benefit of engaging in a community of professionals where one can trade information, share resources, ask and answer questions and discuss educational issues. That being said, these online communities can benefit and impact TEACHERS and STUDENTS. Specifically, students can learn to become independent learners. Students can also learn to create positive digital footprints by shadowing an educator’s positive behaviour online. There is no doubt that education must remain future forward, and preparing and modelling positive sharing to student’s is essential.
There were many great ideas presented in this week’s debate and it was nice to hear of different tools teachers are using the connect with families (i.e- Seesaw, Remind). These are tools I see myself using in my classroom because of the ability to connect with a specific audience. If I were a parent of a young child in school, I think I would love to be connected and to see photos and work of my child. Although this class is opening me up and creating a more comfortable relationship between technology and I, I will remain hesitant when using social media forums and when sharing photos or work of students until policy becomes clearer.
One last thing…
Although teachers are professionals and should know what is right and wrong, I think the Common Sense Education website does a good job outlining the do’s and dont’s of posting and sharing student information, work and photos online.