To share or not to share… ‘please tell me how’ is the question

15 Jun

Last week’s debate posed the question “Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.” Now, I’m not going to lie, the way in which the question was worded had me confused on where I stood (I think it’s fair… so I actually then disagree with the statement right?!), and my own confusion of where I stood continued to grow as we heard compelling arguments from classmates on both sides of the debate.

via GIPHY

The agree team of Amy, Dani, and Joe presented a super creative opening statement, outlining some problems and concerns when it comes to how much we share online whether as ourselves, parents, or teachers. Some of the stats shared in regards to dangers online truly made my shiver.

The disagree team of Kari, Esther, and Shelly, also prepared a compelling opening statement in which they highlighted many positives of sharing such as promoting connectivity between parents, teachers and students, and helping students to begin building a positive digital footprint.

Before the debate, and after, my opinion still stands that I disagree with the statement. I think as schools we need to promote and support more openness and sharing. Whether it is open source software or material, sharing resources between teachers, our students amazing work, with the community on Instagram or Twitter, or with families through apps such as Seesaw, there are so many possibilities for both teachers and students to grow.

As a high school teacher, I have no experience using Seesaw, but I know many classmates use it in their elementary school classrooms, and I have friends and colleagues who use it because their own child’s teacher uses it and I have heard nothing but great things about its power to connect and build digital citizenship skills with young learners. I think the openness and sharing an app like Seesaw creates is so beneficial to teachers, students, and parents, and opens the door to beginning to build a positive digital footprint at a young age in a safe, protected way. (If you want to learn more about Seesaw, check out my classmate Channing’s project from a few classes back in which she explored and detailed her experiences using Seesaw!)

What I struggle with (and it seemed like I am not the only one from our class discussion), is the policies or lack of, in place in regards to sharing and privacy, as well as the vast difference in expectations around sharing from school to school between divisions or districts. I know this is new territory we are often forging ahead in, and I am 100% behind the “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” saying in a lot of cases, but when it comes to something as serious as our students’ privacy and digital identities… is this okay?

We discussed how many of our policies are reactive vs. proactive as we just do not know what potential issues are until it’s too late sometimes. But even harmless mistakes in sharing, can lead to big consequences. I know in talking with other teachers, there has been some mixed messaging sent in terms of what information we can put into google docs because it has the potential of one wrong share click sending out private data, and also what we share on school and personal social media feeds. The ambiguity can be frustrating, and I also feel creates fear in teachers that leads them further from sharing. There have been times I haven’t shared what I think are great things in fear of it being against a policy.

I have been trying to overcome this fear, and share more about what I am doing in my classroom and school on my Twitter account and my school’s Instagram & Twitter, because I honestly think my students and school are AMAZING, and I believe in the power of social media to build positive movements towards change in society. My school’s social media presence isn’t widest spread, especially in comparison to other schools in Regina, but it is growing slowly! I like to think of it as building our own digital footprint as a school! With a little more clarity in terms of policies going forward, I believe a continued push for openness and sharing in schools is only going to continue to grow and benefit students, teachers, and education as a whole.

 

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