Ok, so my wife tells me I went a bit over the top in my post-debate loss rage. So, maybe I did. Anyways, it’s obvious the agree side would have totally won if it wasn’t for the pervasive and rampant voter fraud.
Kidding! Ok, on to the actual topic.
So, this week we debated over the topic: Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that this topic evoked some emotion.It was inevitable that the debate turn to some sensitive areas connected to the safety and well-being of our children.
Our position more or less revolved around safety concerns and ethical considerations connected to sharing images of our children/students online.
Amy, Dani and myself were pretty blatant in our farcically transparent attempt to evoke worst case scenario kinds of fears:
This is, in fact, the worst case scenario that any parents likely fears, no matter how they use social media. And fact is, it is always a possibility. No matter what we do, there really is no way to entirely eliminate the risk. We all know that there are people out there who surf the internet with dishonorable intentions in mind. There is no shortage of potential risks that come hand in hand with posting online, and powerful testimonials, like this mother’s worst nightmare come true, would give anybody pause.
We also considered the ethical ramifications of sharing images online on our children’s behalf. Like our debate adversaries, we considered the idea of building our digital identities. Our view, as far as the debate went, was that there may well be a kind of ethical violation in essentially building our children’s profile for them.
Even getting their permission might not be enough, because there is no way for them to fully appreciate the gravity of that digital profile; how permanent it is; how it can impact them both tomorrow as well as twenty years from now. I think this can be evidenced as, at the very least, a concern by stories such as this one. Can you imagine, as a parent, being sued by your own child over images you posted of them growing up? On the one hand, this almost seems surreal. But on the other hand, I get it. I still have pangs of discomfort when I see myself online, and this debate introduction video is no exception. I get how that kid might be feeling.
Thinking about the debate afterwards, once I had time to get over my loss, I actually thought it was kind of funny how I ended up debating in favour of it being unfair for us to be sharing as we are in schools.
It was just over a year ago that I initially enrolled in ECI831, my first Edtech class with Alec Couros. The drive behind my taking the course was my growing perception that I was becoming increasingly out of sync with how many of my students are learning.
My idea of being tech savvy was completely different from how my students saw being tech savvy. I knew I needed a bit of an eye opener. My preconceptions were so negative that it essentially precluded me from acknowledging the benefits of using social media and having an online presence.
And here I am, a year later, taking joy in arguing for a position that I am actually gravitating against. A position that, a year ago, I would have likely endorsed wholeheartedly.
I very much appreciate my peer Daniel’s blog post, where he categorizes teachers as being risk adverse and risk tolerant. His self-description feels like a mirror image of how I perceive myself:
Although I find myself leaning towards being a risk adverse teacher, I find myself being more and more positive to the idea of opening my classroom and using some of the tools I mentioned earlier to make my offering as a teacher more diverse.
I see myself in the exact same way, and it’s taken some work to get to where I am.
Not only do I intellectually understand the benefits of using social media innovations to enrich my teaching, but I have lived them. Last Fall, for ECI831, my social media project had me embracing Seesaw as a collaborative tool for my small group reading support. This has been a turning point for me, and I can no longer fathom my L.L.I. groups without using Seesaw as both an engagement piece for my students, as well as parents.
For me, what this debate has done is to ensure that I maintain a sort of balance in my view and how I act on it. As I worked with Amy and Dani on building our case, I came to the same realization that I see Catherine coming to in her post:
I didn’t even think about the fact that these students will inherit a digital footprint that they had no part in creating.
Becoming engaged as I was with using Seesaw with my reading groups, I was not really thinking about it possibly being a building block in the digital identities of my students. A digital identity that they will have to live with. That’s not to say that the photos I have been posting onto their Seesaw profiles are in any way bad. But I didn’t even think about the fact that these students will inherit a digital footprint that they had no part in creating…
In all seriousness, I remain very wary of the consequences of what I am doing online both in terms of my personal practice, as well as what I do online on behalf of my school and students. This debate, for me, serves as a kind of check and balance. As with anything really, when it comes to education, the outcomes of any intervention depend on the purpose and intent behind that intervention.
And this is where our debate adversaries had it right in sharing resource this this one, where the ISTE ask us to consider 5 questions before posting:
1. What information am I sharing?
2. How secure is it?
3. Who am I sharing it with?
4. What am I leaving behind?
5. What are my rights?
By teaching this to our future digital citizens (aka. citizens), and modeling this deliberate and intentional process to sharing online, we can hopefully reap the benefits of using social media wonders in a responsible and ethical manner.
Thanks for reading!