moral, ethical, and legal uses of technology

In the context of early childhood education, this topic is extremely relevant to the sharing teachers do via online platforms. Early years teachers use documentation as a way to share their students’ learning experiences with children, families, and other educators.

Teachers must consider: a) who the audience of an online post will be and, b) what the purpose of sharing a post is. This is related to several topics that Dylan discussed in his video this week, including informed consent, full disclosure, privacy, and security.

When the purpose of creating an online post is to share children’s learning directly with them or their families, teachers should use a digital platform that has a restricted child/family audience, such as Edsby or Seesaw. These digital platforms, which are directly used by school divisions, are more secure and require a log-in to access digital artifacts. Therefore, because there is more security, educators can share more openly. Images including children’s faces and information about the child (such as their name) can be shared.

When an online post will be shared on a social media platform such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, however, the audience is much more broad. The purpose of sharing a post on these open platforms is usually to share with other educators. In these instances, educators must take extra care to protect the privacy of their students. Common practices I see (and that I use myself) are referring to children by a letter rather than a first name (ex. “T” instead of Timothy), cropping out children’s faces in photos, covering or blurring children’s faces, or sharing an image of the items children are playing with rather than the children themselves.

The examples below are all from my own Instagram account:

Lovepreet discussed the blurred lines between personal and professional uses of technology. When teachers share images of their classroom or students on social media accounts, they must take utmost care to ensure that the posts are being shared for professional reasons and are written in a professional manner.

Shristy’s video brought up confidentiality and sharing photos respectfully and safely. This is directly related to the Media Release permission forms that families sign at the beginning of the school year. Caregivers can decide how/if they would like their child’s image shared in a variety of contexts – community newspaper, school Facebook page, school yearbook, etc. Educators must, above all, respect the direct wishes of families when sharing online content.

While I firmly believe in having these permission forms, I do think they can be made more clear and easily understandable for all parties. Families need to be more informed on what exactly the media release forms are referring to, and teachers need to understand what each choice on the form means in regard to sharing. I feel that the way the forms are written don’t make these things explicitly clear, which could easily lead to a misunderstanding. There have been instances where families will have full permissions for one child in the family but not another, or families will have no permissions one year and full permissions the next. I think this speaks to the vague nature of the forms’ language, or perhaps even the families checking off items on the forms that they don’t fully understand.

What measures do you take to ensure privacy when posting about your classroom/students online? What is your division’s process for obtaining media permissions from families?

Until next time,

-KKF

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6 thoughts on “moral, ethical, and legal uses of technology

  1. Its a good idea to use first alphabet of children’s name rather than taking their full names. Preventing the identity of children online is important as it saves them from being bullied or cheated online. Its not an easy task for a teacher to keep an eye on every media platform, so teacher should tell their students to be active towards safe use of digital technologies.
    Also the answer to the question is: First of all I guide students that how they can keep themselves safe online and talk to them personally from time to time and try to figure out if they are under going some issues in their lives and find out the reason.

    • Thanks for the comment, Amanpreet! I agree that protecting children’s privacy is of the utmost importance. This brings me back to what Dylan said about teachers acting ‘in loco parentis;’ we have to consider if what we are posting online would align with what the family would approve of. Parents posting images and videos (or even information) about their children online is something I have come to think about a lot more as a result of this class – especially when the thing they are posting might not be flattering to the child. I’ve been wondering, “In 10 years, would the child want that to be posted online about them?”

  2. Hi! I appreciated your comments regarding the permission forms. It sparked thoughts in me about how often many of us may click to agree to terms of service without understanding the full ramifications to what we are agreeing. I am wondering if this is the case with the consent forms as well. There are so many levels of complexity that go deeper than having the permission to share. I think this is where as teachers we really need to examine our levels of understanding and take additional cautions regarding protection of students. I am glad that Edsby and Seesaw have more protections built in to restrict audiences. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Patricia! I agree that it could most likely be a case of not reading the permission form through fully or not understanding what it means (like we do for Terms of Service). Writing this post has made me question the reason that I share posts about my classroom. I think in the future I will be sure that it is actually sharing an idea with fellow educators, rather than just sharing something that is cute or ‘instagram-worthy.’

  3. This comment: “Teachers must consider: a) who the audience of an online post will be and, b) what the purpose of sharing a post is” brought me back to a discussion we had in class weeks ago about how long people should be held accountable for with their posts, likes/shares, etc. online. So many times I read something online that was posted by an educator and think… hmm… I’m not sure I would have posted that. Or hmm… maybe this isn’t the right time or audience to be posting something like that. Regardless of what it may be, I think we need to sometimes be more aware like Bart iludes to, that even though we have a personal life online, it is greatly connected to our professional life as well. Things can get messy quite quickly, and taking some time to really understand the two points you present is really fundamental.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kelly! I completely agree! It is so scary to think that something posted online can come back to haunt you in your professional life. I feel that this threat of being punished for something we do or say online hanging over our heads is what makes a lot of teachers hesitant to post online or share their thoughts and opinions. I think it’s good that teachers (generally) err on the side of caution, but it is also sad too that we feel we can’t really have free speech (which is another theme that has come up in this class – how to share your opinion without getting fired, as Steve Boots said).

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