August 09, 2006

Blog guidance for teaching staff

  Originally uploaded by *Dario*.

Via Neil Winton (no blog?) we learn how American colleges are tackling online behaviour to try and avoid the fallout administrators have dealt with this past year. Among my favourites is the story of an under-21 getting convicted for under-aged drinking based on a Facebook pic. But, unlike US drinking laws, the universities' approach has not been draconian. It appears quite enlightened and genuinely well-meant. The main thrust is on protecting students from things they might regret when later graduating or trying to find a job.

Carelessness - or more likely a lack of appreciation of the worldwide audience and indelibility of writing to the net - can still occur in the workplace, though. Currently there is a significant gap in provision gaping hole in guidance on social technology use for teachers (the safety of students is beginning to take on more of an official face). I have often been advised against proposing guidance since this is, clearly, the job of the Scottish Executive, General Teaching Council or, at the very least, Learning and Teaching Scotland. However, as an LTS employee and frequent, occasionally controversial blogger, I need black and white to fall back on if things do go bum up. I think others will be in the same boat. And I can't wait until things go wrong for the politicians just to ban everything. It's too important for that.

So this week I am writing a draft employee blogging policy in time for the start of term. Once Version 0.1 is written I'll copy it onto the ScotEduBlogs wiki and welcome people's additions or comments. I'll then take it around to those in the Scottish Executive, General Teaching Council and Learning and Teaching Scotland who care about these things. By the time it reaches Version 1.0 it will be our document. It will belong to the people who know the consequences of good - and bad - actions.

Let's do it, before they do something else.

Update: Thanks to Marlyn for this wealth of information and background reading/presentations. A great place to start with some really informed sources. Thanks to Karen, too, for providing the East Lothian 'base' policies. Hopefully, we'll be able to draw things together. It might not be up today as a first draft, but it will be up there eventually!


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I picked up on your earlier post Bebo more popular than MySpace: UK and decided to try and find out how easy it would be to find information about my pupils/school (Perth Academy). It was a rather frightening experience.
In order to gain access to the school listings, I had to create a Bebo account. I created a fictional name, though I did use my real date-of-birth... Bebo helpfully allows one to hide this so the pupils wouldn't know I was 43... I used a temporary email address and I was a member of Bebo.

What I uncovered was adequate proof for me that we need to act quickly to educate our pupils. I took the profane language with a pinch of salt, but the number of personal details I could access was a real worry: personal email addresses, enough information to work out where pupils lived (admittedly in part because I know the area) and in one case a mobile phone number. Couple this with the photographs of pupils and members of staff, and one begins to realise that there is a real case for teaching the pupils about the ramifications of their actions.
Bebo do a nice line in covering their backs, but I could see no evidence of this in the posts I looked at.
What is interesting to consider is whether the pupils concerned would actually care? I'll find out next week when we return as I intend to ask a couple of the pupils I've taught about their views on Bebo...

We have a draft policy in Argyll, which was relatively recent...after my own and the teddy blog had been going for some time and I now realise that we ourselves have contravened some of the conditions therein. I've been in contact with several others who also have concerns. Banning will never be an answer. I'm an Alan November convert! However, I have today, been given by the police officer with responsibility for child protection a document prepared by the University of Lancashire in 2004.It is a programme of education for teenagers, and can be seen at Like the SQA's much too late. My concern lies with my 8 year olds blogging away on bebo and 9 year olds dishing out their email addresses and personal details like sweeties. But as I have said before, our greatest problem here arises from their peers and the knock on effects that we have to pick up in school.
Neil: I agree we must do something speedily to educate the children, but lead the horse to water...will it drink? I'm extremely concerned that abuse of communication tools will remove the excellence that our particular communication tool has generated.I put the foul language way to the side and followed a few of the conversations and that was the scarey bit.
So I've been working to get parents onside, though not just negatively. The C must be kept in ICT.

Oh and just like the underage drinker...I have the admission from the chap who set off the fire alarm just as the school concert was starting...telling his pals on bebo! :-)

I agree that it's not easy to make them drink, and I'm not even sure we have a right to do this with regards to webspaces they create in their own time. What I do think we have a duty to do is teach/educate/inform them of how far reaching their actions may be, and also guide them to use these tools responsibly in school. The rest is going to be up to them...

PS: Thanks for the link to looks v.v. interesting!

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