Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Future proofing our Web 2 students

ERO is only a few days away so I am still mulling over the internet policies that we have in place. I appreciate the contributions from Myles, Suzie, Allanah, Stephanie, Luke and Debbie to my thinking from my last post. I am completely in agreement with those who pointed out that our students' greatest threat to online safety comes from those who they know, and that the 'stranger danger' predator kind of threat is the least likely, despite what some adults and media persist in promoting. I have seen first hand the damage teenagers can inflict on each other during 'Bebo Wars' and one doesn't need to go further than some of the issues raised in Growing up Online to realise that some of the greatest dangers online to our students come from themselves and their peers.
So it is this kind of social danger that is at the forefront of my mind as I continue to ponder how schools are really placed to provide safety for our students online.
One of the things I have been searching for is how schools are responding to questions about future-proofing the safety of their students - and I haven't found any examples of policies relating to this. You may think that it is sufficient to be responsible for their current safety without worrying about the future! Yet I see teachers across the globe happily posting photos, podcasts and videos of their students online, secure in that they are following their school's policies and have parent permission for this. I am sure that, like my school, they have gained parent permission and have procedures in place to ensure they are acting responsibly.
What I am wondering is, what happens to these images/videos/etc in the future? When the student graduates from the class, or the teacher leaves the school, or in 10 years time....? Are the abandoned blogs still open for comment? Are the videos (and their comments) on YouTube still being monitored? Are those Flickr photos still able to be linked to? What happens when a 16 year old student no longer thinks the stuff her teacher allowed to be posted when she was 9 is cute anymore, but it is still online, and is now being downloaded or linked to by peers in an unkind way. Who do you appeal to to take it down? Who holds the passwords to these online spaces that teachers in 2009 thought were such wonderful ways to engage students in 21st century learning?

Are you and your schools talking about this? What have you decided to do to future proof your students' Web 2 experience? Who holds the passwords to the accounts where other peoples' kids are being published online? What happens when teachers leave the school or change classes? The answer is simple for those of you who work in schools which either don't allow publishing students online OR who do it inside a passworded, and protected from the public, 'walled garden'.

I would be very interested in hearing how those of you who are currently publishing student material out there in the world wide web are future-proofing those 'time capsules' you are happily publishing today?