Legal and Ethical Contexts in my Digital Practice
An ethical dilemma that I have faced was whether or not to make student's indiividual blogs public. I will use Hall’s questions to guide the process of what happened (2001).
Distinguish between personal and professional values
My personal values around social media are a belief that personal information should be kept private. So my own personal social media is quite private and only shared with trusted friends. For media that I use professionally such as my Twitter account I don’t share personal information.
Even though student work is often personal, I have a professional value that “published” work by students is in the public domain. Work on the wall in the school corridors is similar to work on a school blog. A school blog is more controlled than some other social media in that it is possible to moderate all comments so that undesirable interactions or predatory behaviour does not become an issue.
I also believe that if children aged 11-13 are not specifically taught safe online practices and what and how to share and interact they will get themselves into strife later. This is even more the case now where many children are already on 13+ social networking sites from 9 years and up with no guidance.
What would happen if everyone did that?
It would be fine if all students this age did personal blogging. However I have seen instances where a teacher has not thought the process through and given the students opportunities to co-construct practice guidelines and the students have posted in ways that have brought disrepute to themselves and their school.
Vary the Variables
If the students in this case were adults they would need to understand the difference between professional and personal sharing. If the variable of the medium were changed back to the physical school environment it only reinforces that the same standards of publishing need to be applied.
What would a good teacher do?
A good teacher promotes the wellbeing of learners and protects them from harm (Education Council, 2016). However, prevention is better than response and potential risks can be managed through cybersafety agreements, including parental consent and we also developed a co-constructed blogging agreement. In order for young people to become confident and safe online participants, they need to be guided into independent practice (Ministry of Education, 2016).
At the time, we believed the biggest disagreement would come from parents. So we opened up conversation with parents and invited them into the classroom to see how blogging works, teach them how to respond to their children’s blog posts and the safeguards we had in place to protect them from unwanted attention (comment moderation).
Overall it was decided that the benefits outweighed the risks and we felt we could create a social media network that enabled the students to learn safe practices.
Education Council (2016). Our Code Our Standards – code of professional responsibility and standards for the teaching profession.
Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Developing-leaders/What-Ought-I-to-Do-All-Things-Considered-An-Approach-to-the-Exploration-of-Ethical-Problems-by-Teachers
Ministry of Education. (2016). Digital Technology – safe and responsible use in schools. New Zealand Government.