While I am an outspoken advocate for the constructive uses of blogs, wikis, podcasts, cell phones, and other types of read/write web services and digital technologies to support learning both inside and outside the classroom, it is also VERY important for teachers to understand and respect local school board policies which may exist regarding these tools. Advocating for school change by using potentially disruptive, digital technologies for teaching and learning can and SHOULD attract the attention of others, including school district leaders, but no one wants to attract the NEGATIVE attention of a school leader who is ANGRY because a district policy has been violated. In the video “District Policies Regarding Blogs and Wikis, “ YouTube user gfrancomtube created a remix of a 1950s video about parenting and father-son confrontations to make this point effectively with humor:

The video “Blogs and the Juvenile Delinquent” makes some similar points, including advocacy for “walled garden” use of social networking tools in schools, including blogs and wikis:

The question of whether to permit students and teachers to create and share content on the closed web (inside a “walled garden”) and on the open web is a CRITICAL one for all our school board leaders and administrators to discuss. Hopefully those discussions can include LOTS of input from various stakeholders, including students and teachers. Miguel Guhlin and I addressed this question last November in our TechForum presentation, “Empowering and Protecting Tomorrow’s Digital Citizens.” Miguel’s wiki article and link list, “Creating the Walled Garden: Setting Up Web 2.0 Apps on School District Servers,” is also a good resource to utilize when forming opinions about walled gardens and seeking tools to utilize in implementing read/write web environments in schools for learners.

My personal view is that students as well as teachers SHOULD be permitted and encouraged to constructively and appropriately publish content on the OPEN WEB. That opinion, unfortunately, is currently NOT part of the school board policies of most school districts in which and with which I now work.

I’ve added both these videos to my “Videos for PD” blog page, under the category “Web 2.0.” (These could also fit under the category “Humor,” but such are the constraints of organization by taxonomy rather than folksonomy.)

Both of these videos raise the specter of “Internet predators” as a reason to support “walled garden” social networking and read/write web publishing, rather than “open web” publishing. As I’ve written and said many times before, the danger and threat of online predators is sometimes blown out of proportion by the media as well as by well-intentioned leaders. (Even educational technology conference speakers, in some cases.) Have any students actually been contacted by an Internet predator as a result of something they have written on a school-sponsored blog, wiki, or other social website? I have NEVER encountered a case where that has happened. Educational social networking sites like Think.com ARE “walled gardens,” but plenty of tools “out there” (like Class Blogmeister) permit the TEACHER to decide the level of open publication as well as permitted online interaction. I like these videos and think they could be useful for stimulating conversations with adults as well as young people about these topics, but I would caution everyone to (again) not over-estimate the Internet predator risk in the context of school blogging, use of wikis, and social networking.

Linktribution: Karen Montgomery via Kristine at PBWiki. 🙂

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  • Very interesting post, Will. What concerned me in this was the constant use of the term “predators.” I just blogged about this and referenced an article from this month’s American Psychologist that spells out where the threat of predators is — not on bogs and wikis.

  • Duh…make that “Very interesting post, Wes.” Maybe I can’t monitor twitter and write at the same time!

  • Don’t worry Pat, I’ve been called “Will” before and just consider it a compliment! 🙂 Thanks for the reference to American Psychologist article– I had seen and blogged about that previously but didn’t remember it today… VERY important research and findings there…..

  • Karen/Wes,

    So pertinent! A necessary debate that should include the creators of these sites as well as the users (students, parents, teachers, administration, etc).

    I agree that students and teachers should be able to access the ‘open web’ – but newbies should understand how the tools work – and how they are empowered to prevent online predators.

    I created a short list of measures teachers should follow to make sure students are safe online – would love your input. http://tinyurl.com/354uvm
    (I actually uploaded your permission form!)

    -Kristine
    ————————
    Sorry if this posted twice – I can’t understand the captcha!

  • @Wes
    I always love your posts thanks for sharing the youtube clips. I’ve added them to my bookmarks.

    As a Private High School administrator I am currently in the process of rewriting our technology policies. I am currently leaning towards a moderate road of allowing in house and out of house blogging but requiring on public blogs that students do not post personal info on their profiles. On public blogs they could use just a firs name to post.

    I’m also adding a declaimer that Peoria Notre Dame High School uses wikipedia, youtube, blogs, wikis, ustream, twitter, jott, slideshare, gcast, e-pals etc. .and other web based programs that aid in the dissemination of information. Comment moderation will be used when necessary. At all times our teachers use these technologies to further student learning. Myspace and facebook are blocked except for special use during certain school projects. Cell phones must be turned off and not in use during the day except for when required for academic purposes. Ipods and other digital media players may be used as authorized by teachers as study aides on a class by class basis.

    Kind of in its infancy but it should be fun finalizing it. I have some tech savy parents so it should be fun.

  • Kristine: Sorry for the captcha confusion– there is a refresh button on it that will show different choices. For some reason your link put your comment in the spam queue, so that is why it didn’t show up right away, I had to approve it as a comment this morning. Generally Akismet works well (that is my main comment spam plugin) but sometimes it mis-diagnoses comments. Thanks for the link, you all are facilitating GREAT work over on the PBwiki educators site! 🙂 I’m adding your page on protecting students online to my social networking page also.

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