Category Archives: safety

Whither censorship?

I have begun to follow a few people in Twitter and they inevitably say interesting things or point me to interesting reading/listening.  Clarence posted a Tweet, is that “Tweeted” highlighting a podcast from CBC radio about a mother and a school division and their discussions on appropriate site blocking in the elementary school.  Censorship of the internet always makes me take a second look.  I dislike having to ask for reasonable sites to be ‘unblocked’ during the day to day work of school.  It isn’t difficult but it is tiresome.  I know Vicki et al are working on this.  My own school practice is so far from an integrate web 2.0 environment as to make the discussion purely academic but I don’t have any personal net nanny for my own children at home.  So I wonder, what is reasonable?

In this particular case, mom found her twelve year old up in the middle of the night on their office computer.  Using her own personal expertise, the mom had run some checks on her daughter’s practice and was aghast.  The daughter was using the internet at home and at school to talk in chat rooms and go to porn sites.  She took measures in her own home to eliminate her daughter’s access to the internet.  She wanted the school division to have similar measures in place.  The division had temporarily suspended student access to Facebook and some other social software in resp9onse to the incident and was reviewing policy.   The mother thought this was not enough given that Yahoo and other such sites and engines can give students access to similar chat spaces.  Her thought was that there was no educational reason for students to have access to social software at school. She believed that these tools would be better taught and learned about from home.

I believe this story illustrates  why schools need to teach about social software and teach its use rather than the teaching about the need for this access to eliminated in schools.  It is clear to me from this case that the home is not necessarily teaching children what they need to know.  Children need to learn how to make good choices on the internet and they will not learn that by not using the software and sites which are available nor will they learn it in an unsupervised environment.

I set all kinds of limits in my own home to protect my children from negative influences.  My children only watch videos which we borrow from the library.  Usually we preview them before they see them.  My children only go on to the internet accompanied by one of their parents.  So far we have no need for a net minder on our computer because we are with them.  I believe it is the relationship I am building with them which will help to keep them safe as they grow.  They are not testing their wings much beyond my home yet.  They are both younger than ten, what will I want from the school as they grow?  I want them to have access to the tools which they need to develop a critical and creative outlook.  I want them to be able to experiment and play as they learn.  I want them to learn to make choices about which things they want to see and which they do not.  I do not trust a filter to provide a safe environment, I expect the teacher to provide a safe environment.

How do we prevent what happened with this women and her daughter?  I sure do not want a Canadian version of COPA.  I think we need strong divisional policies and well-educated teachers.  I think we need a vision of grade appropriate access to the internet.  I think we need small enough class sizes that teacher supervision of child activity is possible.  I think it is appropriate to be able to track student activity, just as we track employee activity.  They need to know they are working on computers which are not theirs in an environment which is not theirs and is not private.

What do you think?



Filed under education, safety, web 2.0

Safe blogging (continued)

I was reading my feeds and came across this via Vicki D. I must admit I am shocked. These rules boggle my mind. I definitely haven’t been this careful.

“Don’t use your real name. Don’t identify your real address. Be careful about the background of the pictures that you use” (not too identifying).

And here are the risks – “identity thieves, sexual predators, property thieves “(don’t worry I don’t own anything worth stealing).”

So I’m wondering – I’m pretty sure Doug Johnson uses his real name, and I’ve seen a picture of his grandkids. I think Christopher Long uses his real name and posts a picture of his cute child – Beckett (I think). So are these rules over the top or am I naive? How do you people decide what is safe to post. I’d love to see some real discussion here.

I want to know!


Filed under blogging, safety

Virtual Identity and Personal Privacy

I am an adult using self-publishing software on the Internet and exploring the possibility of getting involved in social software, such as Facebook or Second Life. I can’t find anything definitive about what is safe for me online. I see the rules for children – “Never give your name, address, phone number, or school name to anyone you meet online, never go into a new online area that will cost extra without asking your parents’ permission, never give out a credit card number online, never arrange to meet in person with someone you have met online unless you discuss it with your parents and an adult goes with you to a very public place, always tell your parents, or other adult you trust if you see something online that is scary or that you do not understand.” (American Library Association). I wonder how these rules apply to me and my family.

I think I have already broken most of the rules. I publish under my own name and location. Any one who is interested can find me. I don’t go anywhere online that costs money, but I certainly could. The costs are mine to pay. I give out my credit card information online but through a secure site. We avoid having our passwords memorized even on our home desktop. However, I have met a number of people online that I would love to meet in person, Doug Johnson, Stephen Downes, Darren Kuropatwa… and others. I don’t think that this is dangerous for me. So what are my rules? What is safe for me to publish in this forum? What are the dangers for an adult blogger?

In the work that I have been reading on keeping children safe in online environments, I have been hearing about cyber bullying, exposure to inappropriate materials and sexual predation as the risks of online activity. I don’t think these risks apply to me. Am I deluded? I can’t be bullied by my peers. I don’t have any personal contacts who are familiar enougyh with these tools to bully me with them. They don’t even know what they are. I know what to do when I find something I don’t want to see from the Internet and it doesn’t bother or frighten me unduly. At least no more than the nightly news. I think I would know what to do if I was propositioned online. Although it has never happened in person and I think it is even less likely here. So are there risks to my privacy and security when I develop my online identity? If so, what are they?

I can see the risk of identity theft, the risks assosicated with saying things that employers may not like, the risk of stupidity (that is saying something stupid that others find out about). Am I missing anything? I seem to recall Dean Shareski blogging about the risks to students and how he felt they were exaggerated. (My paraphrase, he can correct me if I misinterpreted).

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Filed under blogging, identity, learning, safety

Blog stats, internet safety and other meanderings

I’m fighting the need to say something important and witty versus actual reflection on my latest experiences. I know I have to stay true to myself or risk being inauthentic but I have had traffic to my blog and I hate to lose it. Is this a deep-seeded yearning to be a popular girl, unlike the rest of my experience in life on the social fringes, or something else. I’m hoping on something else, something more like the joy of interesting conversation and genuine connection with my fellow human being. Ah the risks of looking at your stats!

I’ve been caught up in my regular life and blogging took a back seat to a trip to Winnipeg to visit my in-laws (hi mom) and doing my other homework for university. The most interesting part of which is trying to understand the legal ramifications of doing online work with students. I have been surprised by COPA (Child Online Protection Act) and DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act). I think that’s the appropriate abbreviations. Can you tell I don’t live in the USA!? I hadn’t heard of these interesting pieces of legislation. It’s much easier to find out about the legal work happening in the USA. I don’t know anything, as yet, about the situation legally at home. Curious. Do we have legislation about children and the internet? I’ll let you know or better yet, you can let me know!

In addition, I’m helping my husband set up blogs for two of his classrooms. I’ve learned a few new things . WordPress let’s you have any number of blogs linked to the same email address. I am very pleased with this discovery as it allows each of my husband’s classes their own homes. I’m pleased with the ease of setting up shop in the new frontier of web 2.0. I can’t wait to get the students started.

We have administrative approval and are working on the parental permission and other administrative details to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”. I guess we have been careful in our first venture but I thought it wise to be cautious and hopefully successful rather than implusive and disasterous.

I’m still working out what is an appropriate level of risk versus participation in these new venues. I ran across a wonderful analogy between teaching children to swim and teaching children to navigate the internet. After all we don’t just ban chilren from the water and never go swimming, we teach them to swim, first in protected waters under supervision and then in deeper pools and slowly we release them to their own reconnaisance as they prove that they have established their skills. So too with the internet, I’m just wondering what ‘protected and supervised’ should look like.

Argh, this post is linkless. Poor form but it’s late enough for today, perhaps I can link it up tomorrow!


Filed under education, edutech, safety, teacher training, web 2.0

Protecting or Educating?

Donna Desroches extrapolates on the key issues surrounding the use of web 2.0 tools in schools. Do we try to create a school safe haven or do we open the doors and let in the messy real world? It is easy to make this an either/or discussion. I wonder if it is that simple. Either safe haven or messy world? Perhaps it is some safe haven and some messy world. I think a major part of our role is helping students to become aware of the issues which surround the way they are interacting in the world and on the internet.  If we aren’t really out there; can we ask the questions? Will we know what the questions are?

I am delighted to have Donna asking the questions and wrestling with the answers.

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Filed under edutech, safety, web 2.0