Tag Archives: Digital Citizenship

Usage Agreements

Copyright is confusing but Creative Commons helps

When I first started thinking about what I wanted to do for my second COETAIL project, ideas were swarming in my head and I was having difficulty nailing down what I wanted to do.  Sean Thompson approached me one day and asked if I would like to work with him on creating an online usage policy.  I immediately agreed because the idea was one I was thinking about and Sean and I have had some great tech conversations.  We began exchanging our ideas back and forth via e-mail and had a wonderful meeting at my house to hammer out the project.

We decided we wanted to create a web site where schools could send their teachers and students to view resources, complete activities, and in the end feel comfortable enough to begin drafting their own policies.  Early in the creation process Sean and I determined that our main focus should be creating sample policies for students and teachers.  We discussed it and decided he would work on the student policy and I would focus on the policy for teachers.

Privacy is a concern for me

As I sat down to create the online usage policy for teachers, I kept thinking about the articles I have read, videos I’ve seen, and issues that have been brought up in class.  Creative Commons and Copyright popped to the forefront of my mind, as did cyberbullying, privacy students, and age of consent for web site memberships.  The issues chosen were ones that I felt were the most important and I doubt I’ve touched on them all.  I also did not want it to be too long or technically worded.  Finally I wanted my document to come across as supportive and understanding that teachers may make mistakes and may need help with certain things.

I had two different options when creating the actual form.  At first I created the form using Weebly’s own form generator.  However, during our COETAIL meeting misternorris showed me how Google Forms records their results. the easiest way to determine the differences is to compare them side by side.

Bullying is an issue that has gotten a lot of attention lately

Weebly Google Forms
Variety of response types Yes Yes
Specific name field Yes No (but you can create it)
Mandatory question option Yes Yes
Variety of themes No Yes
E-mail form results No Yes
Easily accessible spreadsheet of results No (only accessible when it editing mode of that cell) Yes

For my personal use I want to keep this agreement in mind when I’m using the Internet and Social Media within my class.  I would also love to conduct a session with teachers and students to talk about these issues and facilitate a conversation as they create their own usage agreement.

Please feel free to go to the Acceptable Usage Agreement Teacher Assistant and have a look.

Image Credits:

All Images created using Wordle and text from my past posts.

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Cyber Bullying: New methods but still bullying

It seems like hardly a week goes by without some mention of the ills caused by cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is similar in concept to off-line bullying with a several key differences:

  1. It is online
  2. Due to the nature of the Internet, the offending item could be permanent.
  3. The Internet can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, thus the bullying can go beyond the traditional school day.

Before I begin any discussion on cyber bullying, I must make it clear that while this is a relatively new form of bullying, it is still at it’s core bullying. Bullying itself has been around for a long time.  Below is a section from a letter from the 1960’s belonging to a family member:

“There has been a lot of bullying of the new form II’s – physically (apparently) vocally (as most of the staff can witness) and in giving them the hard or unpleasant work to do.  On Tues. one had made an ill-chosen remark which was considered to be abusive by a form III and a fairly large group of them planned retaliation.  It may have been something which we should expect and accept, but when you consider it along with other factors in the school, we decided on a general and serious tightening up of the school rules which are taken lightly.  Fine! and I was really thrilled during the short time we had the students with us to see that we might succeed”*

      This example highlights the fact bullying has been around for a long time.  While we may think to ourselves that we can end it, nothing will truly change until we as a society truly demand it.

Over the past few years the It Gets Better campaign launched by Dan Savage has gotten publicity and praise from all walks of life. When I first heard about it I felt empowered and happy that people were doing something about bullying of GLBT youth. However, the campaigns core message of trying to encourage kids to remember that after high school things can only get better, is nothing more than a sad commentary on the state of affairs of being a kid nowadays because it puts all the onus on the vicitim and does nothing to address the core issues of violence against LGBTTIQQ2SA.**

Don't blame the tool.

So if we are truly committed to improving school life for everyone, what are we as educators supposed to do?

Most people remember what is was like to be a kid. Nowadays it seems like any instance of temporary childhood idiocy is deemed bullying and people are more than willing to take the issue public.  What we need to remember is some students are either testing societal boundaries, dealing with their own issues, or simply unaware of the harm they are causing. I truly believe that conversations about bullying behavior and addressing the core issues, instead of constant punishment would do the world a lot of good.

However, I also believe that as a society we truly need to be the change we wish to see in our students and our children. In the home and the classroom we encourage young people to be kind and respectful to each other. But, do we as a society actually follow it? Look at how we behave with our friends behind closed doors. Look at what young people are watching. Look at what people have to say in the commentary sections on popular web-sites. Look at how governments act. Look at the web-sites we visit.

The technology may be new but the act of bullying itself is not.  If we truly want to end cyber-bullying and bullying in general, then it is time for to stop berating the behavior of the students and blaming the technology and begin an inward reflection of what change we want to see from society.

Notes:

* This journal is used with the permission of immediate family members, on the condition that the family member was not named.

** According to  Toronto Pride this stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Transexual, Intersex, Queer, Questions, 2-Spirited, Allies

Photo Credit:

cyb-bully_323 by J_O_I_D Creative Commons Licensed, found on Flickr

Apple Aluminum MacBook (Late 2008)  by William Hook

Video:

It Gets Better: Dan and Terry uploaded to YouTube by itgetsbetterproject

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