Graceful in Defeat



riiiiiiiigged!!!!!!!!!!!!!   #riggeddebate

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.

The 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

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!









on “Graceful in Defeat
4 Comments on “Graceful in Defeat
  1. I love the comic side of this post, Joe! I’m sorry for your loss by the way. I really hope you can get over this one 🙂
    I think you are right though. It’s all about balance and I appreciated your honesty about using social media in the classroom before and after ECI 831. That course also had a huge impact on my way of thinking about its potentials and uses in the classroom. I couldn’t fathom teaching without it now and I think it goes to show how far you’ve come and how positive the ideas of digital literacy and creating digital footprints can be to student learning. I loved those questions at the end of your post: 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?
    These questions are so important for teachers, but I think sharing these questions with students could really impact their ideas and ways of thinking about what they share online themselves. As you said, it’s all about balance and learning what is responsible and ethical.
    Great post!

  2. I agree with trying to argue in a debate on a side that isn’t the obvious side! We felt similar last week. It is, however, fun to really dig deep and see what people who do in fact disagree with a topic may have or feel when they are defending their position such as a parent. I also agree with how our stance in many things has changed since beginning these classes! I am completely in the same boat as you! Not that I was ever against tech in the classroom but I feel that I needed help seeing all the benefits and help seeing how it fits better in the classroom and the actual importance of educating students around using it. I feel that every teacher needs to be exposed to these type of debate questions as well as many other ed tech topics so they can begin to see where they fall with their beliefs and how they may need to challenge themselves to look at their teaching practices. Great debate and great post!


  4. Excellent post-Joe and As Shelby commented I loved the comic side of this post and a great opening video in the debate I really loved it and it kept me thinking as you had raised really good points. I completely agree with you when you state about ethical ramifications. The question you posted from ISTE is really thoughtful and excellent resources and guidelines for Educators, Students, and Parents to build a positive digital identity. Once again great post, looking forward to your next one.

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