Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Our Kids?

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Parents love sharing pictures of their children and it is becoming more popular amongst teachers as well. This raises the question, should adults (parents and teachers) gain consent from children to post pictures? 70% of adults believe that it’s not okay to post photos of anyone else; including children without their permission. Also 56% of parents avoid ever posting pictures of their children online. Some dangers of posting online include that 50% of the images posted on paedophile sites were sourced from parent’s social media profiles and that 51% of parents post information online that could lead to an identification of the child’s location at a given time. (Wangle Family Insites)

It is important to take into consideration that, each time a photo or video is uploaded, it creates a digital footprint of a child which can follow them into adult life. Some children may have a negative connotation with social media, and may use strategies to minimize their digital footprint instead of positively building their digital identity. Employers are increasingly using digital footprints as a means of verifying identity and perceived suitability for a position. A lack of digital footprint can be as damaging as one badly managed.  So, are we setting our students up for success? Educators at all levels are instrumental in building students’ understanding about how technology impacts both their personal and future professional lives. Educators are also instrumental in helping students develop lifelong habits to create and maintain a positive online identity. Students will need to participate in these learning networks to stay on top of their fields of interest and to advance their careers. Educators need to lead by modelling transparency, network literacy, sharing, and participation, underpinned by ethical and social responsibility. (Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity)

Even if teachers themselves are not sharing picture of their students online, student information is still being shared. For example, if a school uses PowerSchool their personal information is shared with Pearson, if the school uses Google Apps, then their information gets shared with Google, if a school uses iPad programs, then their information is shared with Apple. These vendors may have terms of service that allow them to share information with affiliates and partners. With that personal details are an asset and could be sold. Data Collection

Social media is also used in teacher education for sharing content, discussing, and collaborating. Leveraging the power of social media for social learning is increasingly recognized as a key skill for teachers. Uses of social media for educators include the production and sharing of content, discussion and interaction with content, and collaborative connection with other social media users. Professionals in the 21st century use social media to promote their professional selves and to network in pursuit of lifelong learning and professional development. (Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education)

Some issues and challenges that teachers have with social media is skepticism, when faced with social media, educators sometimes respond with cynicism that detracts from open mindedness. Sometimes teachers lead ahead to try things out with students before they have invested in their own professional learning. Teachers are cautioned not to rush to use social media with students, but instead to take time to try out the tools and social media environment, for professional learning, in order to become more familiar with the risks and possibilities. There are many horror stories about mismanagement of online identity and loss of professional integrity due to oversharing. I feel nervous to completely adopt social media apps in my classroom for sharing because I do not want to do something wrong. I don’t want to put my students at risk if the unintended audience sees the posts. On the other hand, I can see the educational advantages to social media including that it can improve communication among students and between teachers and students, it is used to promote students’ engagements and they may feel more comfortable to express their creativity and value their opinions on a social network website, and it’s may foster collaboration as they allow students to work together to achieve a common goal. Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media

As educators trying to keep up with this tech savvy world it is important to remember to utilise privacy controls and ensure that the image can only be viewed by a closed group, be mindful of metadata and turn off geolocation enabled services and always seek permission from parents before posting images which include their children.

 

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