I really hope you read my post title as if you are singing Journey’s “Don’t stop believing”.
Now, as Alec mentioned, both teams stood our ground because of the nature of the debate, and I cannot deny that Team Agree made up of Dani, Amy and Joe, totally rocked their side as well. I loved their creative opening statement video!
Their team helped bring to light some of the important conversations we need to have as teachers, particularly the one around privacy.
In our Team Disagree opening statement, Shelly, Esther, and I disagreed that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids for three main reasons.
1. It is a reality of today’s childhood experiences
In this article cleverly entitled “Kids Complicated: Childhood isn’t what it used to be”, Zuckerberg reminds us that we should not be comparing this generation’s childhood to the next. Things are changing and evolving as fast as ever, and it is unfair to think that the way we grew up was better than the way our children and grandchildren will grow up. Even knowing this, I have to admit I am guilty of saying things like, “I am so glad social media didn’t exist when I was in school.” I have a 14 year old brother and I often think about how completely different his high school life is compared to what mine was, and I have caught myself thinking that it’s sad, or unfortunate. Zuckerberg reminded me to stay grounded, and to change my thinking from the negative discourse of ‘we had it so much better.’
Team Agree shared some articles, however, that really got me thinking. The dangers of posting pictures of children online are real. Seeing stats like 50% of the images found on pedophile sites are taken from parents’ social media sites is absolutely shocking. But it is truths like this that we MUST discuss! We can’t just ignore them and pretend like these things are not happening. We need to learn how to be proactive rather than reactive!
2. It promotes connectivity between parents, caregivers, students, teachers, and community
I am a HUGE supporter of using Seesaw in my classroom. I really can’t say enough about it. I use it as an introduction to digital citizenship, and I have had so many positive remarks from parents about the use of it in my class. I feel as though it truly has connected school with home in a more encouraging and supportive way. I teach my students how to post their own work and it is only seen by their parents and family members that are connected to their Seesaw account. Parents comment and like work, and it feels like a great sense of community online.
The problem is that it has the potential to be misused by teachers. I heard a primary teacher telling another teacher about how she posted a failed spelling test mark on there so that the parents would see how much the kids struggles. WHAT!? This made me want to cry! I ended up going to the teacher a few days later after I had calmly thought of how I can address the situation, and she ended up realizing what she had done was very detrimental to that students’ emotional health. This is merely one example of why it is important that when a division introduces things like ‘mandatory Seesaw use’, that sufficient teacher PD is given and they have a chance to explore and collaborate with other teachers before fully integrating it into their classrooms.
3. It allows educators to model how to curate a positive digital footprint for students and their families
I think both Team Agree and Team Disagree promoted the importance of creating/curating a positive digital footprint. One great tool to use when teaching digital citizenship is the STEP approach introduced by Mike Ribble and ISTE. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to take the picture of the image from their article but I do think it is valuable and if you have a second, take a look here.
I love the idea of teaching students the ‘Front Page Rule’. As I talked about in Monday’s debate, I have a very serious conversation with my students about what we put out into the internet universe, and this year I actually Googled myself on my SmartBoard and showed them how I have had to seriously work on making sure everything out there is front page material. Yet, even with my efforts over the last 12 years, one photo from when I was 20 years old exists and even though I have deleted my MySpace account (remember that!?) it still pops up when I Google myself. It is a good lesson (and thank god the picture is just a duck face selfie, and nothing worse).
I think the best source of knowledge for our reason #3 was this article by Buchanan et al.
Buchanan et al. caution us not to have the negative discourse which portrays children as powerless victims rather than resourceful participants. It is more important than ever to build on children’s knowledge by giving them guidance in curating a positive online presence. They suggest that we should teach children that digital footprints are not always a liability and can be developed in ways that benefit them. The big take away from this article: Since the dangers are not going away, teachers can model positive online behaviors and stress the importance of assuming your digital footprint will last a forever.
In conclusion, I do believe that openness and sharing in schools is important, but that conversations around policy, privacy, and how/what to post are more essential than ever.