November 12, 2007

Draft Code of Professionalism from the GTCS

Gtcs_draft_code The General Teaching Council for Scotland, the independent regulatory body for the teaching profession here, has today released a Draft Code of Professionalism which is up for feedback until the end of November.

It's of particular interest to those working with new technologies, as the potential teacher-student relationships outside school hours that social media can facilitate require thinking through from a 'professionalism' point of view.

Personally, I think the Draft Code stands up rather well, and helps offer the guidance that Don was maybe looking for in his Web 2.0/Public Service dilemma. However, there are two angles which remain open to misunderstanding by teachers, yes, but also to parents and students, who do not fall under the GTCS's regulations:

  1. The liaison between social networks and "being in an isolated space" in the school building is true where the social network is closed, but I wonder whether the comparison stands where the network is open for all to see (which is more often the case). Is it, in this more common example, more like being in a conversation in a common area, canteen or classroom? If so, then the Draft Code fails to cover the media literacy obligations of teachers in order that they can handle themselves appropriately in these online social situations.
  2. There's also an issue of how these guidelines play into the use of Glow, the national intranet, which arguably has more isolated, closed-off, special access spaces than Bebo or Facebook. In these situations, teachers can be mindful, but might the Draft Code lead to some teachers just staying away from the learning opportunity in the intranet? Better safe and offline than sorry?

Once again, we see that a clear cut strategy on Media Literacy formed with the people, and revisited as often as humanly possible, will help us interpret these and other Codes of Conduct more 'professionally'. Update: Already the insinuation through people's interpretation is that the GTCS would attempt to control what a teacher puts on their own, personal profile. I don't think this is the intention at all, but the wording needs cleaned up to make it crystal clear.

You may want to have an influence on the English and Welsh Byron Review, covering media literacy issues with social media and video games south of the border. As for Scotland, we'll just have to watch this space...


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Thanks for this post Ewan. I hope this 'Code of Conduct' will provide good guidance not just rules.

I will not use glow and other such sites as it's uncontrolled. Better safe than sorry.

Just a reply to Nick's comment - I feel that's a fairly poor reason not to use Glow (and other such sites - whatever they may be (I assume Bebo, Facebook etc?) - they can be as controlled as you want them to be.

I agree with you, Debbie, but wonder how we can help children, parents and teachers understand how they can make their information more private, only accessible to their 'real' friends (and why this is important in the first place).

Ewan, yes this is a problem, I guess. There was a report in the news this last week saying that people put details on their networking sites which give fraudsters enough information to steal their identity. Now, it could be argued that anyone stupid enough to do that deserves what's coming to them (tongue firmly in cheek). There are, after all plenty of warnings posted on the sites that this could happen.

Perhaps sites like Bebo and Facebook ought to make 'profile hidden' as the default, rather than profiles being on view to anyone and everyone as standard (if you know what I mean)? I use these sites to keep in contact with friends from University who are now living and working all over the world and I have no problems with my pupils accessing them. I have had a couple of pupils trying to 'add me' on Bebo, but all I have to do is decline and it never becomes an issue.

Just as a point of interest, does anyone know if "safe internet use" is part of the ICT curriculum?

Well, safe internet use is part of the ICT curriculum, but digital literacy, understanding the nuances of the internet language and landscape is not. This is something I'm in the process of trying to rectify. Watch this space...

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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