Update: John Woodring blogged his perspective here.
Earlier this school year, I blogged an entry entitled My Teacher Made Me Do It. Essentially, it suggested that teachers--in their eagerness to get students using new Web 2.0 technologies--may encourage their children to lie when they dodge the Terms of Service. The fictional scenario was based on "true stories" I'd heard from teachers in my travels and at conferences.
Since I recently shared the Forbidden Fruit - Social Media in K12 blog entry, I decided to re-post the original entry and it has caused quite a bit of a stir on Google+.
One educator, John Woodring, has even gone so far as to create additional resources elaborated further down in this post. Be sure to check them out!
- Tough situation but we really need to look at the cost of not bending the rules a bit.
- I think the cost of bending the rules is our integrity and the integrity of the students. Not worth it. There are plenty of great Web 2.0 tools that do not require email addresses nor have age limits.
- I've had to discuss this with a few of my teachers, too. So many people just ignore terms of service. Kind of like going whatever speed is convenient and ignoring the speed limits. Speeding is speeding.
- remember, while working in a different district than the one I currently work for, that an area supervisor told me to lie about my kids' ages to sign up for an email pen pal program, several years ago, to help promote writing. Even then I felt bad about it and ended up not doing it, but if it is being advised even at the higher echelons of the technology departments that oversee the schools, then what do we as teachers do? My simplest answer is to go with your gut and your certificate...is an email program worth losing your integrity or your certificate over- when things go bad?
- Some educators now set up "shadow accounts," which raises the question, Do you set up email accounts for your classes? If so, they have age limits, too, right? Or are you using something like Gaggle or ePals, email made for kids? CIPA/COPPA require certain categories of sites to require users to be at least 13 for liability reasons; if we encourage kids to use them when they aren't 13, we both set a poor example and take on legal responsibility for student behavior, right? If we create the accounts for them, I think it's pretty much the same.
- Options... Find an alternative where age won't be an issue - either a paid account or a different tool. Change the lesson so another tool (one that doesn't require an account) can be used. I'm in a 1:1 program, and we're finding that we spend more and more on school subscriptions for our middle school and less and less on software.
- Everything I've ever done is a patch... I'd like a better solution, myself... but what I've done is keep a list of shadow addresses that students don't have access to. My district expects us to maintain strict control over all communications particularly as it relates to online bullying or access to students by outside people via a school sanctioned site. So, keeping the shadow emails makes it easier for me to know about every single comment.
To create a shadow email address, I set up a one email address for this purpose. Call it: JHSstudent@gmail.com
. Then I created shadow accounts by putting a +student name on the back: JHSstudent+JaneDoe@g mail.com. Thats a shadow email.
I don't give out the email addresses to the students because I think it's all on one password. But it is effective because it allows me to have an email address associated with each student for managing comments. The only problem with it is that since the students don't have the email accounts, they may not know that they have a comment (esp. after traffic begins to die down on a posting). I think I could make their email address available to them on an rss feed that they could monitor but I haven't tried yet.
As I said, I'm sure that there are better methods out there...
In response to this conversation, John Woodring (educator) took the following action:
I just created a wiki users can add any sites that would be appropraite for students under 13 years old can use. Please provide a link to the site and a brief description of the site. I added two social network and two blogging sites to get things started.