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Digital Citizenship for Educators

Page history last edited by Shelley 14 years, 11 months ago

Digital Citizenship for Educators


In May of 2008, I was asked by my Upper School principal to join with a few of my colleagues in "seeding a conversation" about our rights and responsibilities as educators within the digital realm. When looking for some information beyond our current policy and my own experience, I first found lots and lots of proscriptive acceptable use policies (aka "AUP's"), the vast majority of them aimed at students, rather than adults. So I reached out to my personal learning network, other educational professionals who also blog or engage in social networking, and asked specifically for information geared towards educators.


I have collected some of the resources I found here: http://www.diigo.com/list/butwait/digital-identity,and have also excerpted some of the feedback I received or found below.  (If you read this and think of a resource I missed that you think I should cite, please email me at shelleyq (at) yahoo (dot) com so I can add it! Or slide on over here and tack on your $.02.)


Which of the approaches below seems most in line with your own way of thinking about digital citizenship? What factors work to shape a community's understanding of "appropriate use"?




Pamela Livingston, former tech head at The Peck School, had this to say:


"One idea is to have a part of the AUP be student-oriented, accessible, and easy to remember. At The Peck School, where I was tech head, we came up with the acronym "LARK" - all computer use at the school had to be L - Legal, A - Appropriate, R - Responsible and K - Kind. The kids all got to know this and when they crossed over the line it was just a matter of saying, "Do you think what just happened is LARK?" and you could just watch them going over in their minds L - Legal, A - Appropriate, etc., and stopping at the letter that applied. Students used to send me photos of larks and even started spilling the LARK term to other ethical issues.


Doug Johnson has been the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato (MN) Public Schools since 1991 and has served as an adjunct faculty member of Minnesota State University since 1990. His teaching experience has included work in grades K-12 both here and in Saudi Arabia. He is the author of four books: The Indispensable Librarian, The Indispensable Teacher’s Guide to Computer Skills, Teaching Right from Wrong in the Digital Age and Machines are the Easy Part; People are the Hard Part. His regular columns appear in Library Media Connection and on the Education World website.


Here's some content excerpted from his Blue Skunk Blog:


  • Write assuming your boss is reading. That's good (and common) advice as far as it goes. But I know my wife, my mother and my daughter all read The Blue Skunk now and then. (My wife is lobbying me to change how I reference her from the LWW - Luckiest Woman in the Word - to the BBWWLMEWIJ - the Beautiful, Brilliant Woman Who Loves Me Even When I am a Jerk). I assume my co-workers read the blog, as might anyone for whom I might work for someday, either as a regular employee or a contractor. Somehow this doesn't really narrow the scope of what I want to write about, but it does force me to ask questions about language, taste, and approach. Every time I've wondered if I should put something of questionable taste in the blog and did, it's usually come back to bite me. A person can tell. Mostly.

  • Gripe globally; praise locally. I don't think anyone really fusses if you express your opinions about global warming, the Iraq War, or NCLB.  But you will never catch me dissing a person who lives close enough that he could easily come by and TP my house. Nor would I  say bad things about a person who I might then have to avoid at a conference. Even going negative, I try to make it about ideas, not people. I have to admit I am really lucky to be working in a school with people I genuinely think are pretty darned good and with whom I am proud to be associated. I don't agree with every decision made, but I know that the decision was made thoughtfully.

  •  Write for edited publications. I've been writing professionally for almost 20 years and certainly on a continuous basis since I've been working for the Mankato Schools. A good deal of what I write is opinion and I've even written a several editorials for the state and local newspapers. My boss in the past has shared things I've written with the school board as a point of pride, I hope. Were the district now to react negatively to my blog, I believe it would have a difficult case showing that my writing impedes my employer's effectiveness or efficiency or otherwise disrupts the workplace,

    since it has not done so in the past. It would be a condemnation of a technology, not of a practice.
  • Write out of goodness. I have a difficult time believing that anything you write because you want to improve education, improve kids lives, or improve society will be counted against you. If you write out of negativity - to vent, to whine, to ridicule - yeah, you'll probably have problems. But I am guessing you were probably having problems at work before you started blogging if that is your blog content. In a workplace where dismissing someone for mediocre job performance or poor interpersonal skills is nearly impossible, supervisors are often looking for any legal means of firing people. If you are doing a good job at work, blog. If you aren't, don't blog.


Claire Thompson teaches at a Distributed Learning (aka Distance Learning or DL) school in Penticton, BC, Canada. My subjects are Science (8-10), Math (8-10), and Biology (11 & 12). She's been teaching since ‘98, but this is only her second year at a DL school.


Here's some content excerpted from her blog, Clarify Me:


It can be very rewarding interacting and corresponding with creative and thoughtful students, but for a teacher there is also an inherent risk. As a teacher I have to be concerned about my perceived conduct, especially when young people are involved. Am I a teacher 24 hours a day? No, but it is certainly not just during the hours when I’m at school or prepping. The line is blurry, it wiggles a bit, it is not hard and fast. We don’t draw the line, others later retrace our steps and sketch in the line where they think it should be.




Lee Kolbert, former classroom teacher and currently in an administrative district-level position in educational technology, shared these thoughts:


Here is a list of a few things that either I did (and shouldn't have) or teachers do today, and shouldn't. These are absolutely meant with totally postitive, educational and wonderful intentions, but let me tell you...in today's world, they can get you in deep doody:



  • Don't give your students your personal email address. If your school or district gives you an email address, this is the one you are supposed to use. Use this one and use it a lot (parents want to communicate with you easily).     


  • Don't give your students your IM name and don't chat with them online. Unless your district has a solution for this.  


  • Don't give your students your personal home/cell phone number. It's ok to give this to their parents, of course, if you are comfortable with that.  


  • Although there are many, MANY extremely educationally valuable websites out there, many are also blocked by school firewalls.


  • Don't recommend that your students go to websites outside of school that are blocked inside of school. If your school is behind a firewall, remember that even if a site is accessible from school, it is filtered. Remind your students and parents that accessing these sites from home CAN sometimes yield unintended results (CYA). If there is something you need for a lesson, download it yourself and bring it in to use it. There are many resources to do this. See Zamzar for starters.  


  • Don't publish students' pictures or names online (unless behind password-protected AND school district approved sites) without a legal written document signed by a parent. Really. Don't.  Our school district uses Edline for our district secure websites. Personally I think the sites are kind of ugly, but they work, they are for communcation, parents LOVE it and they are secure!    


  • If you have a MySpace, FaceBook, etc. page, protect it and scrutinize who you "friend." Be aware that anything you post online is there forever, even if you delete it. Have you seen this site, Waybackmachine?  This site takes a snapshot of every webpage posted and allows you to see anything that has been online since 1996. Didn't know that, huh? Try it.      


  • When in doubt about something, get your principal's approval. Ultimately, your principal is the manager of your school and should take the hit for anything that goes on. If he/she isn't aware that you did something, you go under the bus, rightfully.  


Post on the Army's use of social media:


Graph of corporate two-way media engagement:



Clay Shirky on the transformational possibilities of new media ("We are increasingly living in a landscape where media is global, social, ubiquitous, and cheap):



Will Richardson on social media in education (breakout session at WhippleHill user conference 2009):





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