The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 6 – Openness and Sharing in Schools is Unfair to our Kids.

Of all the topics that we have discussed in ECI830, this is the one topic that I went into the debate not have a firm opinion as to where I stood. I feel like a portion of that comes from how broad this topic can stretch. I was interested to hear both sides of the argument, and to determine what each side had to say in order to convince me of their beliefs. I felt like I learned a lot from this debate, and enjoyed listening to the great points made by my classmates.

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 25.9%, Disagree 73.1%

Agree

Debating that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids was Melinda and Altan. They did a great arguing the topic, and shared some great resources for us to read in their annotated reading list.

On of the biggest topics these two discussed was the language barrier that many immigrant families have when they first come to the school, and the difficulty these families have when it comes to understanding all of the forms that parents are expected to sign. One of the forms highlighted was the Media Release Form. In our group discussion, Kalyn brought up a good point in that whenever she has received a Media release form as a parent, she admitted to not fully understanding what the form allows when it comes to sharing photos of students. I find that when it comes to a lot of documents that come from the school division, I find myself perplexed with the information that I have read, and need to clarify the message of the document with other educators. I can only imagine how immigrate parents with English as a second language must feel when it comes to filling out these forms.

The other big topic that I was most interested in learning more about was that parents are oversharing information about their children on social media, and that some children may not be okay with their parents doing this. I am not a parent yet, but I hope to be a father very soon. When I have a child, I never really thought about the implications of me sharing images of them online for others to see. In one article shared titled Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, it is said that children don’t always give their parents permission to post pictures of them. From the article, it says “Those early posts from parents linger, not just online, but in our children’s memories — and the topics may be things we don’t see as potentially embarrassing.” I find in crazy that this is not only an issue with children, but also with adults who don’t think they are doing anything harmful.

Another article that was shared with the same message was titled Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures provides a list of 10 things that we can do to help students become familiar with the risks of sharing content online. This list includes:

  1. Encourage schools to teach Internet safety and privacy. If educators and their administrators are going to utilize EdTech, they should also make time to teach students about the dangers of giving over private information. In the U.K., internet safety was made a mandatory part of the school curriculum in 2014, and it’s time for the U.S. to step up.
  2. Demand that schools are transparent about the data collected by their technology and ask for parental approval before letting children sign in to machines and apps, as well as give guardians the opportunity to opt their children out of the use of this technology if they feel it’s not protecting their privacy.
  3. Make your friends into fellow advocates so that questions about privacy are expected. Encourage them to ask about data collection in schools and medical facilities so they understand who is collecting data, how it’s being used, who it’s being shared with, how it’s being protected, and how it’s being aggregated. (It’s important to note that anonymizing data is no longer enough since hackers are easily able to de-anonymize it.)
  4. Research the toys you buy for children to ensure they don’t contain unsecure voice or video recording systems. Disable those systems in toys you already own and change the default passwords of gadgets your children use (as well as your home router).
  5. Demand that companies who market directly to minors write terms and conditions that kids can understand.
  6. Encourage policymakers to enact legislation that protects children’s privacy. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed in 1998 but there are loopholes that are constantly being exploited and the legislation needs to be updated to take into account new technology.
  7. Ask about and research the technology your children are using. You can’t use parental controls properly if you don’t understand the platform or app.
  8. Don’t post photos or videos online that reveal personal information about your children. Be mindful of the long-term implications of getting a few likes.
  9. Be clear with grandparents, friends, and babysitters as well about what they are allowed to share online about your children.
  10. Remember that Facebook and Instagram stories or Snapchat “snaps” seem ephemeral, but can easily be photographed, screen capped, downloaded, or recorded by bad actors.

Disagree

Debating for the opposition was Sherrie and Dean. As a side note, I want to acknowledge the amazing video these two shared with class. Highlight of the video was definitely the sharing with Sherrie segment. In addition, I was thinking throughout this debate that Dean needs to become the next Bill Nye the Science Guy in education. Watch the video below.

The broadcast is called 300 seconds, I loved this point

To partner with a great video, this duo also made sure that they touched on points regarding how it is important to teach both students and parents how to have a responsible online presence, and that it is important to have informed consent by both parents and students. They also shared some great annotated articles, including one titled Protecting Student’s Privacy on Social Media.

I want to address a comment that Nancy made during the evening debate. She commented that it seems that a big portion of ECI830 revolves around the idea of teaching mentorship and global citizenship to students. I completely agree with this statement, and have said numerously in previous posts that as the world shifts, so too must education. We are experiencing a shift into the digital era, and as educators we must prepare to teach students about these important skills. I do understand that we are not experts at this subject, but this only allows us as educators to learn the new concepts at the same time as our students.

One thing that I thought was genius was that this group went out, and tried to gather information from the experts. I was very impressed that these two were able to set up an interview with Dr. Verena Roberts, and then again have Dr. Roberts stream into our zoom meeting as a part of the concluding statements. When the ECI830 debate was over, there is usually a few classmates who stick around after to share learning stories. After this debate, Dr. Roberts stuck around and started to share some more information with us. One of the comments that really stuck out to me was when she said “open learning is about learning what consent is.” I think that it is very important that we educate not only students, but also parents about what consent is.

Results

PostVote: Agree 16%, Disagree 84%

Conclusion

In the end, I voted with the disagree side of the argument, but my reasoning behind doing so was for an alternative reason. When I read the original debate of openness and sharing is unfair for kids, I looked at this topic from an alternative angle. The way that I took this debate is from the viewpoint of educators sharing resources with each other. As a relatively new teacher, I find that I have only improved over the years as a result to sharing resources with other educators. In this sense, it would almost be unfair to students if we did not have openness and sharing occurring.

As for the topic of sharing on social media, I think that it is important to educate students on the risks that can come from posting information about themselves online. However, it is important to allow students to create a digital identity, and to connect to others in order to expand their online social network. Lets just make sure that we are doing this safely, and that everyone is providing consent when doing so.

2 thoughts on “The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 6 – Openness and Sharing in Schools is Unfair to our Kids.

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog on this topic. It was an interesting one to do research on and we had a lot of fun too. I agree with your (and Kalyn’s) point about being perplexed by all of the social media release forms. As I said in our rebuttal, I don’t believe that many people understand what they are agreeing to and they do the quick skim, scan, and sign (no different than pressing “I agree to the terms…” when you sign up for an app. Many people blindly give consent (I know I am guilty of this) which is actually quite alarming. There is a level of butt-covering that comes with these forms, but they also are put in place to help protect everyone involved, students and staff. I can’t imagine how daunting these forms must be for new language learners, when they are overwhelming in the first place. I know I will be more vigilant in the future to offer more help and guidance with interpreting these forms when we have new registrations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your post and thoughts Skyler. I’ve also wondered about the ‘consent’ given by school forms (as Sherrie mentions in her response)- I like how she likens it to hitting “I agree to terms and conditions “ of a program. I totally agree with you that the world is changing due to technology so education needs to change also.

    Liked by 1 person

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