Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Students?

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Tuesday’s debate topic was on the statement ‘Openness and Sharing in schools is unfair to kids.’ This is a wide topic and as I looked into it before the debate, I saw that there were two parts to it. I was curious to see how my classmates would connect it together. Melinda and Alton took the agree side that it is not fair for teachers to share about students while Dean and Sherrie disagreed with the statement.

On the agree side that it is unfair to share about students online, I found it very interesting and eye opening to read Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures. I never thought about children’s digital footprint beginning before they are even born. Many parents post ultra sound pictures and this begins their introduction to the digital world. In this article they talk about a report that estimated many kids age 13 already have 1300 photos of them online. The article moves into talking about edtech collecting data from kids. I really never thought about that aspect of privacy within my classroom. This stuck out to me as something I need to think of when using educational apps in my classroom. The school board I work for has a good screening for which apps are allowed in the classroom, but I should still be looking into the ones I use daily to see what information, if any, they are collecting from my students. There are many things I didn’t think about keeping an eye out for such as baby monitors and toys that could be collecting and using data. Melinda and Alton made a great video that had lots of information to support their side. They talked about privacy, openness and cell phones.

As Alec had discussed, posting pictures online of kids or signing media release forms is an additional decision parents need to make in today’s world. This is the first generation with these issues. Many parents choose to share pictures of their children on their social media. For some kids when they grow up, they essentially have their baby book on display for all to see. In Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, the research shows a big disconnect between parents and how children feel about them posting. In the debate the question of what age is the right age for consent? was brought up. This has become a new issue and carries into the classroom. Dr. Verena Roberts, a surprise guest said, “Open learning is learning what consent is.” In today’s world this needs to be a continuous conversation.

What stuck out to me during the debate was when Melinda was talking about newcomers not understanding the media release form in schools. I find it’s not just newcomers that struggle to understand but many families. It is a very wordy document that is not easy to comprehend. Many families sign it without really understanding what it means. I know many families struggle to read so to expect them to understand the media release form is not fair. Some families may have custody agreements and have a parent that is not allowed to be in contact with the children. If a family member signs this not understanding the form completely and a picture was put out on social media of the child, this could be a safety issue. The media release form we have in my division actually states that it lasts till they are 18 years old. So if a parent had signed it in kindergarten, we technically would still have permission to post or use their pictures. Families may not understand this and a lot can change in families lives that also might make this not safe for them. We still send the forms to be signed every year but I find I don’t receive many back for a variety of reasons. They might not understand it or it’s just not a priority to sign and bring back. We send them out each year but I can use my discretion if I want to say they’re okay if they had it sign in the past. I think our forms need to be more specific and parents should be aware of where and when an educator is posting something about their child. If it is in a space that has a separate permission form, for example, Seesaw, and parents know the pictures are just on Seesaw and no one else can see it, they may feel more comfortable. With social media, teachers may use Twitter to share pictures or students work. This was brought up in class that Twitter actually owns those photos once they are posted. Many of the families I teach do not have Twitter. I don’t think it would be fair of educators to be posting pictures of their children on a platform they don’t even use or will see. This kind of goes into another topic that was brought up which is the intent behind the post. Is what the teacher is posting authentic teaching or is it just to show of? Many teachers on Twitter may be seen as being ‘showy’ or just posting to brag about what they’re doing in their classroom. Many educators could use a lesson on ‘think’ before you post. So in this way the parents and students should be aware of where pictures are being posted because they might not have understood the form. I think it is general respect that if you want to use a picture of a student to put into the digital world where anyone could access it, that parents would know and be able to see it. Many parents are okay with their child’s pictures being within the school. Some schools have a TV that has a slideshow or pictures, assemblies could display photos or videos, or their pictures could be hung up in the hallways. Some parents are okay with this but might not want pictures or videos on social media or their child on the news. Therefore there needs to be a specific media release form with particular details of what is being posted and where.

Common Sense Media has great and simplified ideas and resources for teachers wanting to share. The posters below are great to go along with this topic.

Dean and Sherrie made a great video to argue the disagree side to this debate. They shared Protecting Student’s Privacy on Social Media which states you must know your schools policy and follow them. Not only that but have conversations with students as to why those policies are put in place. This video goes along with what the poster above displays. Teachers have a responsibility to check confidentiality and privacy settings on each platform they are planning to use. Educators need to put the protection of students first. Using social media in the classroom can be a good way to model positive digital citizenship to your students and parents. Digital citizenship is important to be taught in our classrooms and using it positively can be a good tool for teaching. I wrote in my notes (but don’t remember who said it) the question, “Is it unfair for us not to prepare kids for the digital world?” Or as Sherrie said in her video “Is it unfair to not take the opportunity to teach our students about positive online behaviours.” Open learning is having conversations and explaining all this at a young age to kids. As Dean said in his video, “sharing is caring and openness is everywhere.”

Overall, it seems that each debate has come down to educating students and families about digital citizenship, digital leadership, and digital footprints. It is unfair to not teach this in schools. Students deserve to know their rights and privacy online. It comes down to having open conversations and sharing the important knowledge of being a digital citizen. I have gone back and forth for my own opinion on this topic. I know that it will be a topic of discussion for years to come and I believe we need to be more clear as educators to students and parents on how we are sharing their pictures or work. Media release forms should be detailed and easier to understand. There should be translators to help newcomer parents to understand what they are signing. It should have more than a yes or no option.“To be true digital citizens, our students need teachers who model pro-social, creative, and responsible social media use.” -Common Sense Media

Thank you for reading!

Christina

Published by christinapatt13

I am a grade 2/3 teacher in Regina, Sask. "The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

4 thoughts on “Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Students?

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Christina. You discussed some of the controversy in posting to Twitter. This was an area that I have continued to think about after the conclusion of the debate. I took a look at our division’s social media form for parents (we have a tech use form and a social media form). It informs parents that teachers will use social media to “offer a way to celebrate the learning in our classroom, provide information about upcoming events, reflect on lessons taught in class, and provide an extension to the standard classroom-learning environment. The term ‘celebrate the learning’ could be taken as an effort to brag or show off. I also know the importance of celebrating learning for student growth and reflection, but maybe Twitter isn’t the proper channel for this? I also like to use social media to get ideas from other educators for my own class, and feel that I too have some good ideas that may be helpful to others. I don’t see that as showing off, however it could be taken that way. There seems to be a fine line in this area.

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    1. Yes I agree social media can be a positive place to celebrate learning! I get many great ideas from other educators around the world and it allows us to connect with teachers. I also agree that twitter might now be the best channel or platform to share. Maybe depending on the school if many parents actively use Twitter it can be a great place to share. In schools where parents aren’t on Twitter it may not be the best platform? It’s a very complex topic! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 😊

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  2. Hi Christina, thanks for the great read!
    I really enjoyed reading your post as it gave me a different perspective than my own. While I am a big supporter of cell phones in school – this comes from my experience in a Grade 7/8 classroom. When I approached this topic, I did it from a middle year’s perspective and never thought about many of the issues you outlined in your post. I completely agree that this would be very difficult to manage in primary classrooms and only create more work for the teachers. I do know that many schools only allow BYOT when a student gets to Grade 6, which might actually be the best route to go. I had the privilege of teaching Kindergarten Health a few years ago, and let me tell you, it was hard enough as is, without throwing cellphones into it haha!
    Thanks again for the great post,

    Matt

    Liked by 1 person

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