Monday, 6 June 2016

Digital Footprints and Ownership of Material

What side of the road will I end up on this week?

The battle of right and wrong has been a struggle this week.  I have attempted to develop on a clear cut yes or no/agree or disagree but I have been stuck on a couple of points.

1 - Who has the right to decide for a student to have themselves or their work posted?

With that being said, who has a Delorian to check out what the world is going to be like in 20 years?
Photo Credit: Pixabay Peggy_Marco
Will the fact that I post a picture of a student succeeding at a task, will they all of a sudden be embarrassed that they did so well and for some unforeseen reason be able to take me to court over a trivial math/science/ELA project?  Unfortunately this is a huge portion of why I am worried about what I should/can post.

The other side is that using social media and creating a digital footprint is still such a new concept that who knows what the regulations are going to be.  This connects to my question Alec tweeted last week. "At what age can students start to choose the matter of their digital footprint?"  I appreciated the conversations that transpired from it and really enjoyed Doug Robertson's blog where he talks about a Digital Temporary Tattoo.  Now this concept is interesting, and he certainly does not give any feasible ways to have a digital temporary tattoo but the idea makes a lot of sense to me.  As we know, kids are silly, reactionary, instantaneous beings that do most things before processing what the pros/cons are of almost every situation.  Which leads me back to my question of who has the right to decide for the student?  Can a 13 year old that is living not in the moment but in the second really thinking about what impact this will have on them in the future?

2 - If we don't embrace this concept of openness and sharing will we be doing a disservice to our students in not truly preparing them for the future?

Part of being a good teacher is being open with students and parents about what is going on with the student on an ongoing basis.  How we are doing this is what is changing.  I love to use GAFE (Google Apps For Education) but the issue with that is it is closed off from the parents.  The students can change their passwords and although I can change them back when needed the parents are not going to  like that arguement.  So why do I not share with the parents on an open platform like a classroom blog or a twitter account of what we are keeping up to?  I keep an updated homework board on my class blog, but I am not sharing much information as to what the students are working.

Why should I if I have already created the assignment, added the videos, links, etc.  What if I decide to be the teacher who backs away from sharing?  Should I go back to leaving the parents and children to have conversations around the dinner table?  That was a tradition I remember about growing up were the supper discussions about everyone's day.  It did only last until I was about 11, then myself and my siblings were each in every activity possible and family meals meant a McDonalds drive thru when we were all in the vehicle at the same time.

I know I am supposed to be getting to what side of the fence I am on this week but I am perplexed and befuddled still.  If the imaginary world that Robertson dreamed about was around I am 100% in for posting, but it is not and I am more worried about our Liberal government taking a similar stance to how France is reacting to parents posting baby photos online.  I understand that sometimes people will dislike something from their past, but as a teacher I would never post anything in malice, or post something that could be misconstrued for anything but a reason to celebrate.

With that being said I am going to step onto the side that is willing to utilize sharing and developing digital footprints for my students in a positive manner.  We use our media releases as an all encompassing document, but I think to ensure all the students and their parents know and understand what I want to do is more than a simple picture of their work but to begin cultivating that positive image.

3 - Who owns the material that is being cultivated?

This brings me to the conversation we had about ownership of material.  Alec did say that most school divisions own the teachers work.  That got me rolling just a little.  I feel that when I take my time to develop a unit, project, or even something as simple as a worksheet that I should be the owner.  Sadly I am not according to my superintendent.  If it is anything created for my role as a teacher it is owned by the division.  That made me think about putting down the old computer at 10:00 pm when I was working on my upcoming unit for the remaining portion of the school year.  Why should I put in all this extra time in developing something I feel is amazing when I am not the owner... But then I realize if I don't finish then my students will have nothing to work on and then it will be a madhouse.  I promptly continued.

As for the students work. It is all their own property.  They are the owners of their work.  This brings me back to my first question of who has the right to post their material online?  With this being my focus I feel the teacher must get permission from both the student who owns the material and the parent before posting anything.  I don't know if it needs to be done every time or if a simple blanket copy of an agreement can be added to our standard media release will suffice for the entire year.  Certainly something to look into.