Category Archives: EC&I 830

Yes We Should Teach Social Justice, but Should We Use Social Media To Do So?

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

Hands down this was the most thought-provoking debate for me yet. This one made me question my own past actions as an educator as well.  One of the sound bites that really stood out to me was from the TedTalk Jacquie and Mike shared in their assigned references. “Teaching will always be a political act” (Sydney Chaffee).  This really hit home for me because in my 22 years as an educator (plus add on additional dozen years as a student in the public school system and a few more as a university student) I realize that my entire life has been shaped by the education system and the governments that have been responsible for the curriculum. 

I have experienced many shifts in pedagogy, assessment practices, expectations, ethical practices, and changing philosophies of how teachers should interact with students.  I am guilty of practices that wouldn’t necessarily be recommended today.  In the past, I have divided groups by gender, and avoided answering questions that we worried would get us into hot water.  When elections came around, I was sure to keep a luke warm stance so I wasn’t influencing my own political views onto students, yet way back, we were taught of the glorious British empire, the explorers, and the building of a great nation; however we neglected to share the real story. Sadly some of us, didn’t know that story because we weren’t taught it in our own schooling.  I was teaching students what I was supposed to at the time, according to a set of values and instructions given to me.   When the pro-side shared Maya Angelou’s famous words, “When we know better, we do better” it made me feel better because I did evolve and change and do better.  I now wonder if I am at a similar crossroads with social media?  I have avoided the whole concept of it until recently, and had a fairly strong case built-up in my mind that it wasn’t a necessary “extra” in my life, but now I’m starting to feel that pivot.

That said, being new to the world of Twitter, I need to proceed cautiously.  I am a small fish in a big pond and there are sharks out there.  The con-side, Brad and Michala, warned of the Internet trolls and I best beware.  I could easily fall into the well-intentioned comments of those who say “All lives matter” or send a black square because it seems like that is what is expected, but not really know why.  I had a really good conversation at the supper table last week about social media and slactivism.  We discussed the reasons why people use social media in the first place.  I have joined social media as a part of this course and to build my PLN.  Other people use it for a communication tool or to celebrate/document moments in their lives, and there are others who use it for a political platform for social justice.  It can be used for all three (and probably many more) functions but it is up to individuals as to how they use it.  I can be a social justice warrior in my classroom and my community without doing it on social media; although I can see the power of this medium. 

Both sides of this debate agreed that teachers need to promote social justice, the debate was really over whether social media “needed” to be a part of it.  I agree with Brad and Michala that face to face learning is best (although we know this can happen on Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well) because we can hear the tone, read the facial expressions and interpret body language.  So often the written word can be misinterpreted, just by the voice we attribute as we read (Thank you to Brad for demonstrating this perfectly).

So yes I agree that social justice should be promoted in schools because as Jacquie and Mike pointed out social justice perspectives are already being taught:  problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, perseverance, and historical context.  I also agree with Jacquie when she said that schools can and should be bigger than their four walls.  And whether we use social media or not, “our aim is to empower students to articulate their own opinions not to coerce them into agreeing with us,” – Sydney Chaffee.  Teachers need to present both sides so students can make informed judgements, but by remaining silent or impartial does not help marginalized people.

In closing, I want to thank Altan and Melinda for sharing their personal stories, they set the stage for the best closing statement ever by Jacquie and Mike. I had tingles listening to them both. Powerful words.

And I also agree with Michala and Brad that it is hard to argue that social media isn’t an amazing tool for being a social justice warrior globally, but when it comes to the debate statement they were able to find the middle ground that all our debates seem to come back to: “Should we teach social justice? YES. Should it be on social media? Not Necessarily.”  That doesn’t me we shouldn’t use it, it just means that we can use it, and know that it has power to influence the world.

I recommend re-watching this powerful discussion.

EC&I 830 Post #7- Debate Reflection #6

Prompt: Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.

Debaters: Melinda & Altan vs. Sherrie & Dean


This was a great debate, and one that I was personally torn on.  Melinda and Althan cited the digital divide and resources stating that students/children do not want us (adults) posting about them online.

To me, the essential questions to be answered are first, what is it exactly that we’re sharing and second, why are we sharing this?  Are we sharing student learning? Are we sharing resources for other teachers?  Are we sharing things that are relevant to things happening in the world right now?

The motivation behind this sharing is just as important.  Are we doing it to improve learning? To inform parents? To inform teachers?  Are we simply doing it as a way to shamelessly self-promote ourselves as educators?

I can absolutely agree with the points that Melinda and Altan raised.  I love that they took an EAL perspective and highlighted the digital divide, that in forcing sharing of learning we may be setting up already disadvantaged students for embarrassment and we try to widen their audience beyond the classroom walls.  Online privacy and opening students up trolls or online predators are another concern. Again, equity was mentioned as the opportunity gap between students came up. Equal access is something that has been mentioned in many of these debates, and as the debates are coming to close, it’s interesting to analyze some of these common themes.

Dean and Sherrie, on the counterargument, suggested that having an open classroom and teaching students how to navigate this environment can be much more beneficial than having a classroom that is is entirely closed.  They assert that this open model can lead to deeper learning and that it can prepared them more for online environments that they’ll encounter in their future learning or in the workplace.

1200px-Global_Open_Educational_Resources_Logo.svg

It was tough after the debate to decide exactly where I stand on this.  I rarely share student learning on social media.  It comes off and a bit braggy to me, and I don’t really use Twitter for self-promotion.  I think there is a benefit to having a wider audience, and I think that there’s great potential in having cross-school collaboration on progress. Prior to COVID, I was planning on having my photography class collaborate with the drama class to do live recordings of their performances.  That opened up the classroom in a sense.  From there, those videos could potentially go on YouTube for students to re-watch their performances for self-evaluation, or could be sent to parents.  I think that in a post-pandemic world, these types of things will be explored a lot.  Pep rallies of the past, where a whole school sits together in a gymnasium, may be a thing of the past.  Can we use technology to bridge the gap somehow?

I have no problem with students sharing their work online.  Many of my courses have a digital portfolio component.  This portfolio, in theory, could be added to each year or shared with parents to show a student’s progress in the course.  I use it as more of a way to teach web development and organizational skills that can be vital to work on computers.

I do like to use Twitter to share articles and resources that I think me be of interest to people that follow me.  I don’t do this as often as I should, as I tend to use Twitter more for social commentary, but it is something that I hope to do more in the future, particularly with the challenges that many educators will face in gearing up for the Fall.

Overall, I think that openness and sharing can be very beneficial to education.  Like many topics in this class, though, a critical lens and a purposeful implementation are key.  If we’re not examining what and why we’re sharing in the first place, I think we’re setting ourselves up for failure and potentially putting students at risk, and Altan and Melinda had cited in their work.

Great job to all.

 

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 7 – Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

It is hard to not be invested in this topic, especially with all of the news stories taking place around the world. Originally for me, I was actually leaning towards the disagreement side of this statement. I think that teachers can get into a lot of trouble when it comes to posting about their own person views on social media. I have a friend who has family members apart of the Co-op Refinery / Unifor strike, and I have seen the backlash that he receives, in addition to the countless arguments of how is enforcing his social views on onto his students.

My opinion changed when reading the annotated readings for this debate. Specifically, it was the TEDTalk video with Sydney Chafee. There was one line in particular that swayed my view. This was when Chafee said “teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” Brilliant! Although I teach the subjects of math and science in my school, I am also teaching students all types of other skills they will need for their future.

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 50%, Disagree 50%

Agree

Jacquie and Mike did a great job arguing how it is the responsibility of teachers to use technology and social media to promote social justice. They shared an article by author Sonia Nieto that discusses how social justice in education includes four components:

  1. Challenges, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.
  2. Provides students with resources needed to their full potential.
  3. Draws on all students talents and strengths.
  4. Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Another point that is brought up is that promoting social justice allows students to become problems solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, build perseverance, learn historical context, and allows for learning outside the school walls. I would also have to say that the final clip in their video has a powerful message.

Jacquie and Mike Debate Introduction Video

Disagree

To counter, Brad and Michala did an excellent job of explaining why it is not the teachers job to use social media to promote social justice. The duo created a video that allowed “people” to share their opinions on the matter.

Teachers should be neutral: This is an important, yet difficult point to get across. It is important to show students that we are all entitled to our opinion, but we also need to make sure that we are not pushing our opinions onto our students. Yet, there are instances where students come in, start an argument over a topic, and you can tell that the student is just repeating what they have heard from their parents. For one instance, I have a student that struggles to learn anything to do with government, because his parents have such a strong view against Justin Trudeau. As a result, whenever we try to teach this student anything about the Liberal party, the only thing we end up hearing from this students is negative comments. It is still important for us as educators to teach students to form their own opinions on subjects, and to not be swayed by others.

Not creating tiny foot soldiers: I think that Brad summed this point up perfectly when he shared his experience about the schools recycling program. What seemed to be something positive, and created by the students of the school was quickly turned around by someone claiming that the was the intention of the classroom teacher trying to orchestrate their own personal agenda. I think that the biggest point that I got out of this story was the support that Brad had from his administrator. It is important to share news with administration about what you are planning on doing in the school so that they are able to field questions regarding issues.

Brad and Michala Debate Introduction Video

Results

PostVote: Agree 63%, Disagree 37%

Conclusion

As I reflect back on this debate, I agree that social justice is a topic that we need to educate students about. The problem that I am still facing is that the word of the original statement is actually debating two things. First, it is debating that we should be using technology to promote social justice. For this topic, I absolutely agree. The more controversial section is that social media should be used to promote social justice. I just think that there are alternative ways to show students about social justice, rather than giving students social media accounts and allowing them to respond online.

I agree that it is important to show students that it is okay to have alternative views regarding controversial topics. I think it is even more important to explain why. An example is an experience I was put in when I was brand new to my current school. I teach in a small conservative town, so naturally there is a lot of judgement towards the LGBT community. I was shocked my first week of teaching when I kept hearing students use the term gay, fag, etc. What I explained to students is that I have family members that are apart of the LGBT community, and I personal felt attacked whenever students used these terms. I explained that I understood they were open to their own interpretations, and beliefs. However, I also said that I personally would feel better if they didn’t use these terms at school. Four years later, I rarely hear any of those terms. I feel as though this is a good way to share with students about the LGBT community, rather than looking at social media to share opinions.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those apart of the class who shared their personal stories regarding the topic of social justice. It is powerful to learn from others, and to listen to alternative ways people live.

The Final Debate – Social Media and Social Justice

What a debate to end the semester! As always, both sides presented strong arguments and the discussion that ensued was powerful. Jacquie and Mike started us off with the definition of social justice and explained according to author Sonia Nieto social justice in education includes four components:

  1. Challenges, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.
  2. Provides students with resources needed to their full potential.
  3. Draws on all students talents and strengths.
  4. Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Their video also discussed the views of Sydney Chaffee, a teacher in the United States who strongly believes social justice belongs in our schools.

In her Ted Talk, Chaffee states:

Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people. If we insist that education happens in a vacuum we do our students a disservice. We teach them education doesn’t really matter because it’s not relevant to what is happening all around them.

We know what is happening all around them. An entire world full of issues that aren’t necessarily written into specific outcomes in the curriculum. I believe our role as educators is to provide students with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, to question, to challenge, to create informed opinions. We must do that through a social justice lens. I think that we all agreed with that statement. The debate really wasn’t about IF social justice should be taught but rather if social media be used to teach it.

Brad and Michala presented their side with a satirical look at the issues promoting social justice through social media can create. One point they made is do we really want students to go online to “pick fights with people”? Is opening them up to internet trolls going to be helpful? They also discussed the importance of building relationships and face to face communication. Both of which do not happen in the same way through social media. For me these are the biggest issue with becoming an activist online. I believe in social justice and have seen amazing examples of what students can do. I just am undecided if social media is always the best place. It is what prevents me from doing a lot of posting. I am on social media, I read a lot on twitter and “keep up” with friends and family on Facebook. But I don’t post a lot. I am really trying to be present online and want to develop my identity there as well. I struggle with posting things as I watch the cancel culture, as Alec called it, that we currently live in. One misstep online can be detrimental.

While our discussion was leading to extreme examples, Dean made a comment that really stuck with me. Social justice doesn’t have to be extreme, it can be things that get kids thinking about being a better human being. So very true! Michala then pointed out that something such as handing out food hampers fits that description but then why does it need to be tweeted out? What is the intent? To help others or to help others and get credit for it? So many things to think about!

The entire discussion was thought provoking and I am still reflecting on it. Melinda and Altan sharing their personal stories was courageous and powerful. Here I am thinking that I don’t like to always post things online but yet I have the choice. Their experiences really made me think about the privilege I have living in Canada. Jacquie’s final statement was eloquent, moving, and perfectly summarized the ideas and emotions of the night. I am linking the class video here as I want to be able to go back and listen to those words again.

While this post may not be as well put together, it’s because I feel there is still so much to learn and reflect on. I thank you all for such a powerful conversation.

Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Our Kids?

This was one debate that I entered not feeling as informed. I wasn’t completely sure what I thought about the topic as it is a pretty broad statement. That was also made clear in topics that were brought up in the videos and discussion. There were so many ideas that could fit into openness and sharing.

Melinda and Altan started us off by agreeing that openness and sharing is unfair to our kids. The reasons they gave included privacy concerns, unfairness of open educational resources which can highlight the digital divide, and the open use of cellphones. Dean and Sherrie countered the argument saying that openness and sharing is fair as it provides meaningful learning opportunities which include teaching about and modelling digital citizenship, it encourages the 4Cs (connectivity, communication, creativity, and collaboration) and promotes learning on your own terms and at your own convenience. Both teams presented strong arguments for topics that all fit under the idea of openness and sharing.

Melinda and Altan discussed privacy and media release forms. I agree that these forms create many problems in our school due to lack of understanding of what they mean. I feel that goes for parents and for teachers. I too have seen many occasions where students had to sit in a different part of the gym so that the local media present did not get them on camera. That is heartbreaking to have to explain to a young student who doesn’t understand why they can’t be a part of what is going on with their classmates. For teachers, keeping track of who has permission for what type of media can also get to be a bit much. But those forms are important and parents need to have the choice to give consent.

Privacy issues also got me thinking about the apps and technology we use. Last semester as part of my final project I examined the terms of services and privacy guidelines of a few commonly used apps. Prior to the class I had never taken the time to read through those. It is definitely an eye opener! We often just click accept and don’t take the time to look into what we are giving companies access to. As teachers do we have that right to sign our students up to any account we would like to use? Is it ok for a teacher to decide that a students’ information can be used? In the school division I work for apps and programs are vetted and have been approved or denied for use with students. Criteria used to make that decision includes privacy and what the company does with students’ information. However, many teachers aren’t aware that there is a process in place. Often the need or want to use an app with students trumps privacy. Is that fair to students?

In the article Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures it states that “parents are already some of the biggest violators of their kids privacy”. That is easy to see if you are on Facebook or Instagram. In fact the article discuss the term “sharenting, which is the phenomenon of parents putting information about their children online”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing pictures of family and friends’ children, but is there a point of too much? Currently there is a lemon juice shot challenge that is making its way around Facebook. Parents are filming their children (I’ve seen as young as 3) sitting at a table doing a shot of lemon juice. Then, they challenge some other child to do the same in 24 hours or else they owe you a chocolate bar, slurpee, candy, etc. I don’t get it. Why are parents feeling this is something the social media world needs to see of their children? In the discussion the comment was made that parents make choices for their kids all the time. What about their digital footprint? I understand that a video of a five year old doing a lemon shot is not going to prevent someone from getting a job in the future but at what point does sharenting become too much?

The other part of this discussion that really stood for me was the oversharing that is done by teachers on social media. There are times when I have questioned why something was shared. As stated in our discussion, things that are shared need to be meaningful rather than a way to build your online reputation. In Mike Ribble’s book Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know, he writes about the STEP process for posting online – stop, think, empathize, and post. This is a process that should be used by students and teachers. What is the purpose for posting something online? Are we willing to sacrifice privacy for promoting?

Dean and Sherrie also provided some very valid arguments. Sherrie’s rant was full of excellent information and was very well executed! Rather than try to summarize what she said, I will simply share the video below. You can also read the script on her blog.

In the rant Sherrie expressed that “by sharing student work online, schools can celebrate student success, promote learning, build school culture and invite parents, and community, to be a part of the learning process”. I fully agree. If used in a meaningful way, sharing online can be very powerful for a school community. It’s finding that balance of how much to share.

In the end I found myself on the disagree side. By providing openness and sharing in schools special guest, Dr. Verena Roberts explained that it is our opportunity to help students understand consent. Dean also stated that if we believe it is unfair to share is it not just as unfair that we are not equipping our students for a digital connected world? Once again this debate guided us to the place of understanding how critical it is for us as educators to develop critical thinking skills in our students through digital citizenship.

the end…

EC&I 830, what a powerful class. I have never in my life taken part in actual debates and this made me terribly nervous throughout the course. Although my classmate, Altan and I were rushing when the sign up sheet opened up to get one of our favourite topics, for some reason we ended up being last with an issue that was not taken by anybody else. It seemed to be impossible to come up with ideas for “Openness and sharing in schools are unfair to our kids” but after a little research, it was scary to see the traps that we fall into when it comes to sharing. So, ending up with this topic was actually a good thing. Being a mom of two soon to be teenagers, definitely taught me a few things to look out for.

Throughout the course, besides gaining a broader view of the current issues, I loved seeing the creativity in the opening statements. I found the videos, discussions and experiences shared very informative and powerful. These debates helped me see both sides of the current issues discussed:

I would like to say thank you to my Prof. Dr. Alec Couros and my peers for sharing their knowledge and experiences, for the valuable connections, and for the intellectual and emotional support that was very much needed during this time. A special thank you to my debate partner, Altan, who was a pleasure to work with. Please take a peak at my Summary of Learning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5qTSo2OFdA

Thank you for stopping by and I wish you all good health and a wonderful relaxing SUMMER!

Debate #6: Is Openness and Sharing in Schools is Unfair to Our Kids?

June 9th’s debate was on openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our students.  We had Melinda and Altan on the agree side, and Sherrie and Dean on the disagree side.  I tended to lean on the disagree side of the debate (With some reservations, find out more below).

Melinda and Altan did a great job highlighting the reasons we should be cautious when we encourage sharing and openness in the classroom.  Their argument was around the following points.

  1. Privacy Issues
    • Language Barrier
    • Social Media
    • Children’s Input
    • Sharenting
  2. Challenges of Openness
    • Digital Etiquette
    • Digital Rights
    • Digital Literacy
    • Digital Divide
  3. Use of Cellphones
    • Digital Communication

Dean and Sherrie countered with an excellent Newscast and the Sherrie Meredith Report.  These were some of their main points of persuading the viewers to lean to their side of the argument.

  1. Openness and Sharing provides more meaningful learning opportunities
  2. Learning on your own terms
  3. Take opportunities to teach about digital footprints
  4. Openness allows for opportunities for the 4Cs (and Connectivity)
  5. Educate to be informed posters
  6. The need to model for students good digital citizenship.
  7. Opportunities to connect globally.
  8. Learn at your own convenience

The Main Take-Aways

Throughout this debate, I pondered many of the points that were brought up on both sides. The inequity of the media release form for EAL families, openness and sharing and the 4Cs, educating students to become informed posters, consulting with students about posting online, and sharenting.

The Inequity of the Media Release Forms for EAL families

This resonated with me.  Melinda and Altan highlighted that for the media release forms, parents are not always aware of what the media release form means and implies.  I taught my first two years of teaching in Ogema, Saskatchewan. A small rural community with a large Filipino population, roughly 50% of our students.  To be honest this situation never occurred to me.  Melinda and Altan addressed this issue through some key points.

  • These include translation apps (Such as my favourite, Microsoft Translate)
  • Rewriting the form using a clear, simple explanation
  • Examples, such as photos
  • Educating about negative consequences.

These points are something that I will keep in mind while implementing and writing policies for parents around the implementation of technology in schools and the classroom.  It will also provide opportunities to work and collaborate with our EAL consultant.

The Sherrie Meredith Report

I knew going into this blog post I would have to highlight Sherrie’s rant.  Many of the points that she was sharing reiterate the importance of the underlying theme.  The NEED for educators to implement and teach digital citizenship.

Sherrie addressing many points in her rant, but these are the ones that stood out to me.

Openness and sharing encourages the 4Cs

Sherrie discusses how openness and sharing encourage connectivity, communication, creativity, and collaboration.  I would also argue that it allows for critical thinking as these are the skills that students will need to know in a world that promotes openness and sharing of resources.

We see numerous opportunities for openness and sharing and the connection of the 4Cs to global projects such as The Global Read AloudThis project encourages classrooms to connect with one another and complete and reflect globally with different classrooms using tools such as Google Hangouts, Skype/Teams, Flipgrid, and Seesaw.

Educate Students to Become informed Online Posters

As educators, we need to be role models for our students and allow them to be informed posters online.  This comes from the thoughtful implementation of digital citizenship embedded throughout the curriculum, as well as modeling for students.

Vicki Davis talks about the two essential approaches to digital citizenship curriculum.  Proactive Knowledge and Experiential Knowledge.  For more on the 9 Key Ps of proactive knowledge check out my previous blog post.  Vicky highlights as educators we need to move beyond providing just touching on the points of “proactive” digital citizenship.  Our students need to have experiences to become effective digital citizenship.  Opportunities to teach these skills in blogging, and collaborating with others inside and outside of the school division.  These opportunities allow for openness and sharing, while also providing teaching moments around digital citizenship.

Consulting with Students about posting online

This is something that I need to do better.  As a consultant, I often go into classrooms and gain the teacher’s permission to take pictures of the students that I am working with.  However, Sherrie brings up an excellent point on the importance of ensuring that we have asked the child for their permission to take pictures and the purpose of taking the pictures.

Melinda and Altan posted an article Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures. This article talks about how a child’s digital footprint starts before birth. Usually starting with ultrasound photos and due date announcements.  The article discusses the term “Sharenting”, the act of parents putting information about their children online. I believe the threat of this concern is very real as much of children’s lives are documented on social media.  This ties into Sherrie’s argument about ensuring that students know and understand the implications of posting online.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I tended to lean more to the disagree side, as I believe that openness and sharing provide excellent opportunities for digital citizenship conversations.  It allows for the teaching of the 4Cs and to prepare students for the 21st Century.  We have to be mindful.  Mindful of what we are posting online, mindful that we are equitable, and everyone has the same understanding around policies around openness and sharing.  As educators, we must still ask for permission from students if it is okay to take their picture, and we must teach them the implications of sharing data online.  With the practices that Dean and Sherrie, and Altan and Melinda highlight we can provide opportunities for students to share in healthy digital spaces.

A Little Rant on Openess and Sharing in Schools

Is openess and sharing in schools unfair to kids?

This debate reflection was co-created with my partner Dean. Feel free to comment on mine, his, or both blogs. We thought we would try something a little different this week and created a post debate vlog. You can also choose to listen to podcast version if you want to multi-task and go for a walk while listening to our post debate reflective conversation.

Special thanks to Dr. Verena Roberts for granting us an interview.

The debate gave everyone lots to think about. Thank you to Altan and Melida for sharing their perspectives as well.

AGREE OPENING STATEMENT

I really appreciated hearing Melinda and Altan’s perspective.

DISAGREE OPENING STATEMENT

Quite the expression to represent “Sharing a Story of Opening Minds and Hearts”.

Overall, people agree that openess and sharing is fair to students and a positive experience if done responsibly, safely and with the proper consent.

Pre-Vote

Pre-vote results
Post vote results

Below is a transcript of our extended “rant” with links to some of our research. A full-length version of the rant is also available for viewing on our Open For Business Wakelet. (Turns out I could speed talk on this topic for quite some time, and some of the footage remained on the cutting room floor).

Sherrie’s Extended Rant

Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our students?  Or is it unfair not to take the opportunity to teach students about positive online behaviours.  Schools are the best place for students to learn how to create and maintain a positive identity online.   

Digital footprint, digital shadow, online reputation, digital tattoo — whatever you call it, it’s a term that’s too important to ignore yet often isn’t discussed in homes or classrooms.” This digital footprint will affect students for their entire lives, so it is definitely important that students are aware of what they are sharing and what is being shared about them.  

This brings me to the question as to why do schools use social media platforms to share and promote an open classroom?  By sharing student work online, schools can celebrate student success, promote learning, build school culture and invite parents, and community, to be a part of the learning process.  

There are many reasons why educators use social media in schools.  One – it is a part of our current reality; instead of resisting it, we need to embrace it!  Two, it provides instant communication with our stakeholders – no more notes lost in the bookbag!  And most importantly, three, CONNECTIVITY – openness and sharing encourages collaboration, creativity, and communication, and what is better than that?  

Are there dangers to be concerned about by sharing online?  Sure, but such dangers have been present long before social media, and sadly, as much as we wish we could, they simply cannot be completely avoided.  What we can do is educate students to be informed posters.  Students need to be a part of the decision-making as to what is posted about them.  It is not enough to have a parent sign-off on September 1st that pictures can be posted in the school yearbook and on their social media sites; students need to be consulted because it is their digital footprint that is being affected and they need to learn about what is and what is not appropriate to post.  Australian educational blogger, Kathleen Morris, shares: “unfortunately, issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, and problematic internet use are not going away. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.

Most of all, don’t be afraid of these challenges. As a teacher we’re in a unique position to really help empower young people to use technology safely, enjoyably, and purposefully.

Educators using social media as a form of openess and sharing need to model good citizenship and be aware of their school divisions policies regarding social media.  I can tell you that South East Cornerstone leaves no stone unturned.  We have AP 193 on Social Media Guidelines, complete with a SOCIAL MEDIA APPROVAL FORM appendix, AP 140 on Acceptable Use,  Incidental Use, Unacceptable use, and AP 183 on Confidentiality.  And then of course there is the school registration form where parents give their consent under LAFOIP, for their child’s image to be shared.  Teachers need to be aware of which parents have not given permission.  And also understand that just because a parent has given permission does not mean that you don’t need to consult with the student for their permission before you post.

In their research, Buchanan, Southgate, Scevek and Smith state:  “Digital footprint management goes beyond meeting the legal obligations of protecting children, following the code of conduct, and complying with computer usage policies. Most schools are not only fulfilling these legal requirements but are educating their students about cyber safety. Education for the development of a positive digital footprint doesn’t finish at teaching students what they cannot do but builds productively on this by letting them know what they can do to develop an online presence that will be an asset to them in the future. This represents a shift from a model based on compliance to one based on ethical management.”    

So is openness and sharing in schools unfair to students?  I guess that depends on who is doing the posting.