Monday, 6 June 2016

Teaching the Teachers About Online Ethics

Week 29 and the fifth post for Applied Practice in Context:
cc public domain attribution

Everyone has a right to privacy, right? Even teachers. So what I put on Facebook is my business. Wrong.
I hear more about Facebook abuse than any other social networking tool, and as my community of practice is an intermediate, our method of controlling its use - or rather, abuse - is by blocking it.  Yes, I know  - education is better than control, and hopefully we will get there.  But right now, it’s easier to stop our students accessing it at school, especially as half of them are underage according to Facebook guidelines.
The issue is partly that adults don’t get it either.  Some parents are blissfully unaware that Samantha is posting posed shots of herself with pouty lips; or that she has collected friends like Weetbix cards, people she less than barely knows who can read about her every move. They come to us when Samantha receives insulting putdowns from Jessica and Alana.  You see, it’s easy to be a big brave bully online, not having to look your victim in the eye and waiting for adulation from other kids in the peer group. (NB I realise that the person is bullying, not the tool, so we work on that too, with programmes like PB4L and Kia Kaha.)
We counsel parents and their children about security settings and making sure that the former are aware of their offspring’s online life.  I hold regular assemblies where I gather student photos from nonsecure accounts and display them across the screen (nothing risque of course).  I let the student body know about the ease of access, lack of control and right that I have to view their images, just as any stranger might.  It’s a strong message with desired results, based on a Learning@School conference keynote, from Australian cyber cop, Brent Lee.
Remember I said that adults don’t get it either? Well, teachers are adult.  They forget how networked we are.  I suggest that they don’t need to be friends with me as deputy principal, but we have mutual friends so a comment on a photo could turn up on my feed.  And they sometimes forget that some of their “friends” are parents or people who have friends who are parents. A comment can be misconstrued or turn into gossip very quickly.
With this in mind, the Board of Trustees decided to put together a social media policy, gathering documentation from Netsafe, from the Code of Ethics and from the Teachers and Social Media site.  We held a staff meeting on social media and the staff looked at the Code of Ethics and the draft social media policy more closely.  There was a lot of learning.  Many of them had no idea that they could not ethically post photos of their students working without specific permission or that there were dangers in publishing named student images.
We now have our Mokoia Matrix which is our digital citizenship and cybersafety hub, for all members of our community.  All teachers need to teach digital literacy.  That way they learn too.

Education Council. (nd). Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved from