We should talk – what are you doing to ensure student safety online?

winamp_coneIt is one of the most important conversations we can have. When student privacy and safety is at stake, we all have an obligation to do our part.

Keeping in mind that laws and policies vary depending on where you are and what age you work with, there are some common sense tips we should all follow.

The discussion below was inspired by comments left by educators on this Edublogger post over the past few weeks.

This post was co-written by Ronnie Burt and Sue Waters.

Is it fact, fiction, hype or fear?

Let us start by discussing the concerns of students working online and why we need to care before looking at some common sense tips.

As middle school teacher Jabiz Rasidana says:

“What, exactly is it, that everyone is so afraid of?”

Too often media creates hysteria about Internet predators leading school districts to respond to parent and teacher concerns by blocking any kind of social networking while failing to highlight the positive aspects achieved when students collaborate online as part of a global community.

Gail Desler highlights:

While we recognize that online predators pose a threat, about 1% of child abuse and sexual abuse cases, and we certainly do not dismiss the need to teach our students about safety issues, such as “grooming,” we also want all students to learn to use the Internet effectively and ethically.

Our middle school counselors, for instance, report that over 60% of their case load involves handling and defusing cyberbullying and “sexting” issues – mainly from smart phones. Pretty much 100% of the time, the parents are clueless as to how their children are using the Internet.

Digital citizenship should be built into media literacy —media literacy as a must-have skill for the 21st century.

Internet safety is best taught at school and not at home (sorry, parents).

And like Kathleen McGready says:

The biggest thing is … you can’t just do one off lessons on cyber safety. Cyber safety is not a separate subject.

Through being heavily involved in blogging, my grade two class has opportunities almost every day to discuss cyber safety issues and appropriate online behaviours in an authentic setting.

When we’re writing blog posts and comments together, a wide range of issues come up incidentally. The discussions are so rich and purposeful and my students now have an excellent understanding of the do’s and don’ts of internet safety.

Most of us agreed that:

  1. Teaching students what can and what shouldn’t be shared online can’t be boiled down to a few lessons.
  2. It is best if the topic is brought up often and in context when working with any web technology.

What do we need to consider?

The reality is that we’ve got to face the questions and concerns raised when students are online head on.

lightbulb

Our world is increasingly connected, and our students need to know how to interact online safely and with some level of privacy. The trouble is that educators, administrators, online web tools, politicians, and parents just aren’t sure what that looks like yet. And for some reason, a consensus decision isn’t likely anytime soon. Either way, we must educate students about the expectations we have of them when they are online and about the digital footprint they leave behind.

We need to educate our students on how to work in a safe online environment.

As Kathleen McGeady commented,

“I don’t think it matters that much what your actual policies are on photos/avatars/no images etc as long as you’re having conversations and doing something!”

Here’s some things to consider and our advice when working online with your students.

Tip #1:  Set clear guidelines

Set GuidelinesIt’s crucial to have clear guidelines so that all parents and students are aware of what is and isn’t appropriate.

The best approach is to get students involved with creating the guidelines.

For example. Pernille Ripp has an excellent activity using the analogy  The Internet is like a Mall.  She tells them that going on the internet is like going to the mall without your parents’ supervision and asks them to share how do they stay safe at the mall?  This takes the students from a topic they already understand and know to applying those same principles online.

Check out these examples:

  1. Pernille Ripp’ s Internet Safety Plan and Blogging Introduction
  2. Kathleen McGeady’s Introduction to Bloggigng HandoutGuide to Getting the Most out of 2KM’s Class blog and Our Blog Guidelines
  3. Edublogs Guide to Using Blogs With Students

Here’s how to set up your blogging rules and guidelines.

Tip #2:  Use of student names

What names to use?This is usually one of the first items to think about before using any online services with students.

Can they use their full name, first name only, last initial, or maybe a made-up username? In general, obtaining parent permission for minors is important when using anything other than a made-up or “code” name.

Most educators use the student’s first name only combined with a combination of letters and/or numbers that might represent their year level, room number, school or class blog such as amberh4 or adrianhan10 for student usernames and blog URLs.

Tip #3:  Use of  photos

Use of ImagesUse of student photos, and especially linking names with specific photos, are also questions that come up when blogging, sharing videos, or using other web services online. Even though 99.9% of visitors to your class blog will be well meaning parents, students, community members, or interested visitors from around the world, the unfortunate reality is that those with bad intentions can also visit public sites. There are also cases where the personal background of a student might mean they need more privacy and anonymity than others.

Decisions on whether to use student photographs or not is often more about protecting educators from having problems with parents or administrators who have concerns about cyber-predators.

A safe compromise is to only use photo taken from behind students.

On the other hand, one of the most engaging and powerful aspects of blogging comes from the sense of pride and ownership that only happens when you put yourself out there for the world to see. For this reason, many teachers do use student images.

As middle school teacher Jabiz Rasidana points out on Intrepid Teacher,

“the most rewarding experiences I have had online, the most authentic and personal relationships have been because I shared more than I should have.”

And the same is true for students. We put our thoughts and ideas out there, and everyone learns from it – especially the blogger.

Kathleen McGready says:

Unlike many classes, I identify students by first name and photo. Of course I gain parent permission for this and 100% of my parents have been supportive. Last year, I did not publish photos of students and I think there were more cons than pros. The parents and the classes we work with around the world are able to connect more with our blog and student work by seeing who the authors are.

Taking it a step further, any student comments or posts may need to be kept private behind a password. This is understandable – imagine if you were the one student in a class that for one reason or another shouldn’t have your photo online especially when it comes to your avatar.  All of your classmates have a photo avatar while you are left with a funny image or drawing. You probably wouldn’t be too happy about this.

An alternative solution is to get your students to create  their own avatar using these online reources without using a photo!

The key is to have the conversations with your administrators and parents about the use of photos online — so you can address the needs of your community.

Tip #4: Public vs Private

film

Many times, cautious administrators or teachers will opt to keep all blogs private.

However, being locked behind a password greatly limits the global learning aspect that encourages outsiders to visit and comment on student blogs.  Further still, it can really stifle the energy and motivation created when students know they are writing so that their family and friends (and even strangers) can see.

  • If students share a video they created in a class presentation they will probably get excited.
  • If students publish the same video on the web for all to see, they feel accomplished and professional!

From experience we’ve found that when educators allow their students to publish their content in a public space they spend more time educating their students and reinforcing appropriate online behavior than those that use private sites locked behind a password.

And don’t forget, on public blogs you can set up systems like Leigh Newton uses where all comments and posts spark an email to him, the administrator.

Here’s how you moderate all comments and posts on student blogs — if you need/want to take this approach.

Tip # 5: Student work and confidentiality

PrivateHowever, there are occasions when you really do need to consider confidentially.

There was one example we ran across recently where a teacher of special needs students had a class blog. By allowing students to comment on the blog, the students were identified as part of the special education program.  This lead to the important discussion about if this violates confidentiality for those students. In this case, the school administrators erred on the side of caution – and the wishes of the students and parents involved. The conclusion was to change the class blog to private so that only registered and approved visitors could visit it. The parents and students in the class were all given accounts to use.

Teacher feedback, specifically anything that can be interpreted as grades, is another area that educators that are blogging with students should be aware of. It is natural to leave comments on blogs for students, but there are other times when more detailed feedback may be best left for private.

Final Thoughts

As Common Sense Media puts it in one of their 10 beliefs,

“We believe in teaching our kids to be savvy, respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators.  We can’t cover their eyes but we can teach them to see.”

agentHere’s some helpful resources

So what next?

Like the continuous discussions we should be having with our students, the dialog should continue among educators, parents, and policy makers to ensure we are maximizing learning freedoms while encouraging safe and smart web habits.

Please leave your thoughts or questions below for our blogging community to continue to learn from each other!

(This is a "Page")Terms of Service

Please find our Privacy Policy here.

Edublogs.org is a site specifically for teachers, students, librarians, researchers, professors, administrators, corporate trainers and anyone else involved in education.

The following terms and conditions govern all use of the Edublogs.org website and blogging platform. Edublogs is owned and operated by Incsub, LLC. Edublogs is offered subject to your acceptance without modification of all of the terms and conditions contained herein and all other operating rules, policies and procedures that may be published from time to time on this Site by Edublogs (collectively, the “Agreement”).

Please read this Agreement carefully before accessing or using Edublogs. By accessing or using any part of Edublogs, you agree to become bound by the terms and conditions of this agreement. If you do not agree to all the terms and conditions of this agreement, then you may not access Edublogs or use any services. If these terms and conditions are considered an offer by Edublogs, acceptance is expressly limited to these terms.

1. Creating an Account and Blog. Edublogs is intended to be used only by students, teachers, and educators. Students under 13 may only create accounts and/or blogs under the express approval and supervision of their teachers or school. The teacher or school is responsible for ensuring that use complies with local laws and policies. Parents can contact support@edublogs.org to request the creation of individual blogs for children under 13 that wish to use Edublogs for a project or purpose outside of school.

2. Responsibility of Contributors. If you operate a blog, comment on a blog, post material to Edublogs, post links on Edublogs, or otherwise make (or allow any third party to make) material available by means of Edublogs (any such material, “Content”), You are entirely responsible for the content of, and any harm resulting from, that Content. That is the case regardless of whether the Content in question constitutes text, graphics, an audio file, or computer software. By making Content available, you represent and warrant that:

  • the downloading, copying and use of the Content will not infringe the proprietary rights, including but not limited to the copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret rights, of any third party;
  • if your employer has rights to intellectual property you create, you have either (i) received permission from your employer to post or make available the Content, including but not limited to any software, or (ii) secured from your employer a waiver as to all rights in or to the Content;
  • you have fully complied with any third-party licenses relating to the Content, and have done all things necessary to successfully pass through to end users any required terms;
  • the Content does not contain or install any viruses, worms, malware, Trojan horses or other harmful or destructive content;
  • the Content is not spam, is not machine- or randomly-generated, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);
    • the Content is not pornographic, libelous or defamatory, does not contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities, and does not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party;
    • your blog is not getting advertised via unwanted electronic messages such as spam links on newsgroups, email lists, other blogs and web sites, and similar unsolicited promotional methods;
    • your blog is not named in a manner that misleads your readers into thinking that you are another person or company. For example, your blog’s URL or name is not the name of a person other than yourself or company other than your own; and
    • you have, in the case of Content that includes computer code, accurately categorized and/or described the type, nature, uses and effects of the materials, whether requested to do so by Edublogs or otherwise.

By submitting Content to Edublogs for inclusion on your Website, you grant Edublogs a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog. If you delete Content, Edublogs will use reasonable efforts to remove it from Edublogs, but you acknowledge that caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable.

Without limiting any of those representations or warranties, Edublogs has the right (though not the obligation) to, in Edublogs’s sole discretion (i) refuse or remove any content that, in Edublogs’s reasonable opinion, violates any Edublogs policy or is in any way harmful or objectionable, or (ii) terminate or deny access to and use of Edublogs to any individual or entity for any reason, in Edublogs’s sole discretion. Edublogs will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid.

3. Fees and Payment. Optional premium ‘Pro’ paid services such as extra storage, Pro themes and plugins, or Campus Packages are available on Edublogs. By selecting a premium service you agree to pay Edublogs the monthly or annual subscription fees indicated for that service. Payments will be charged on the day you sign up for a premium service and will cover the use of that service for a monthly or annual period as indicated. Premium service fees are not refundable.

4. Paid Services.

  • Fees; Payment. By signing up for Pro account you agree to pay Edublogs the fees indicated in exchange for the services. Applicable fees will be invoiced starting from the day your Pro account is established. Pro accounts can be canceled by you at anytime.
  • Support. Pro accounts include access to priority email support. “Email support” means the ability to make requests for technical support assistance by email at any time (with reasonable efforts by Edublogs to respond within one business day) concerning the use of the Pro account. “Priority” means that support for Pro account customers takes priority over support for users of the standard, free Edublogs.org blogging services. All Pro account support will be provided in accordance with Edublogs Pro practices, procedures and policies.

5.  Responsibility of Website Visitors. Edublogs has not reviewed, and cannot review, all of the material, including computer software, posted to Edublogs, and cannot therefore be responsible for that material’s content, use or effects. By operating Edublogs, Edublogs does not represent or imply that it endorses the material there posted, or that it believes such material to be accurate, useful or non-harmful. You are responsible for taking precautions as necessary to protect yourself and your computer systems from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other harmful or destructive content. Edublogs may contain content that is offensive, indecent, or otherwise objectionable, as well as content containing technical inaccuracies, typographical mistakes, and other errors. Edublogs may also contain material that violates the privacy or publicity rights, or infringes the intellectual property and other proprietary rights, of third parties, or the downloading, copying or use of which is subject to additional terms and conditions, stated or unstated. Edublogs disclaims any responsibility for any harm resulting from the use by visitors of Edublogs, or from any downloading by those visitors of content there posted.

6. Content Posted on Other Websites. We have not reviewed, and cannot review, all of the material, including computer software, made available through Edublogss and webpages to which Edublogs.org links, and that link to Edublogs.org. Edublogs does not have any control over those non-Edublogs websites and webpages, and is not responsible for their contents or their use. By linking to a non-Edublogs website or webpage, Edublogs does not represent or imply that it endorses such website or webpage. You are responsible for taking precautions as necessary to protect yourself and your computer systems from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other harmful or destructive content. Edublogs disclaims any responsibility for any harm resulting from your use of non-Edublogs websites and webpages.

7. Copyright Infringement and DMCA Policy. As Edublogs asks others to respect its intellectual property rights, it respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that material located on or linked to by Edublogs.org violates your copyright, you are encouraged to notify Edublogs using this form here. Edublogs will respond to all such notices, including as required or appropriate by removing the infringing material or disabling all links to the infringing material. In the case of a visitor who may infringe or repeatedly infringes the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of Edublogs or others, Edublogs may, in its discretion, terminate or deny access to and use of Edublogs. In the case of such termination, Edublogs will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid to Edublogs.

8. Intellectual Property. This Agreement does not transfer from Edublogs to you any Edublogs or third party intellectual property, and all right, title and interest in and to such property will remain (as between the parties) solely with Edublogs. Edublogs, Edublogs, Edublogs.org, the Edublogs.org logo, and all other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with Edublogs.org, or Edublogs are trademarks or registered trademarks of Edublogs or Edublogs’s licensors. Other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with Edublogs may be the trademarks of other third parties. Your use of Edublogs grants you no right or license to reproduce or otherwise use any Edublogs or third-party trademarks.

9. Changes. Edublogs reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify or replace any part of this Agreement. It is your responsibility to check this Agreement periodically for changes. Your continued use of or access to Edublogs following the posting of any changes to this Agreement constitutes acceptance of those changes. Edublogs may also, in the future, offer new services and/or features through Edublogs (including, the release of new tools and resources). Such new features and/or services shall be subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

10. Termination. Edublogs may terminate your access to all or any part of Edublogs at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your Edublogs.org account (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using Edublogs. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you have a Pro account, such account can only be terminated by Edublogs if you materially breach this Agreement and fail to cure such breach within thirty (30) days from Edublogs’s notice to you thereof; provided that, Edublogs can terminate Edublogs immediately as part of a general shut down of our service. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.

11. Disclaimer of Warranties. Edublogs is provided “as is”. Edublogs and its suppliers and licensors hereby disclaim all warranties of any kind, express or implied, including, without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. Neither Edublogs nor its suppliers and licensors, makes any warranty that Edublogs will be error free or that access thereto will be continuous or uninterrupted. You understand that you download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through, Edublogs at your own discretion and risk.

12. Limitation of Liability. In no event will Edublogs, or its suppliers or licensors, be liable with respect to any subject matter of this agreement under any contract, negligence, strict liability or other legal or equitable theory for: (i) any special, incidental or consequential damages; (ii) the cost of procurement or substitute products or services; (iii) for interruption of use or loss or corruption of data; or (iv) for any amounts that exceed the fees paid by you to Edublogs under this agreement during the twelve (12) month period prior to the cause of action. Edublogs shall have no liability for any failure or delay due to matters beyond their reasonable control. The foregoing shall not apply to the extent prohibited by applicable law.

13. General Representation and Warranty. You represent and warrant that (i) your use of Edublogs will be in strict accordance with the Edublogs Privacy Policy, with this Agreement and with all applicable laws and regulations (including without limitation any local laws or regulations in your country, state, city, or other governmental area, regarding online conduct and acceptable content, and including all applicable laws regarding the transmission of technical data exported from the United States or the country in which you reside) and (ii) your use of Edublogs will not infringe or misappropriate the intellectual property rights of any third party.

14. Indemnification. You agree to indemnify and hold harmless Edublogs, its contractors, and its licensors, and their respective directors, officers, employees and agents from and against any and all claims and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising out of your use of Edublogs, including but not limited to your violation of this Agreement.

This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between Edublogs and you concerning the subject matter hereof, and they may only be modified by a written amendment signed by an authorized executive of Edublogs, or by the posting by Edublogs of a revised version. The prevailing party in any action or proceeding to enforce this Agreement shall be entitled to costs and attorneys’ fees. If any part of this Agreement is held invalid or unenforceable, that part will be construed to reflect the parties’ original intent, and the remaining portions will remain in full force and effect. A waiver by either party of any term or condition of this Agreement or any breach thereof, in any one instance, will not waive such term or condition or any subsequent breach thereof. You may assign your rights under this Agreement to any party that consents to, and agrees to be bound by, its terms and conditions; Edublogs may assign its rights under this Agreement without condition. This Agreement will be binding upon and will inure to the benefit of the parties, their successors and permitted assigns.

Provide some details for your blog
No stress, you can always change this later on.
.edublogs.org

« Go back Register Account » Create a Site »