When I first searched images for this blog post, my mind jumped to key words such as danger, online safety, vulnerability… (notice how my opening picture has ‘danger’ written all over it?) Which leads me to think about how students can be limited by the thoughts/beliefs/comfort of their teacher when it comes to technology. So when I use the word openness is my title, the first reference is to that of the person who is governing student computer use.
I say this because I know that I have been ‘guilty as charged’ when it comes to worrying about the internet. Both in terms of my own safety, the safety of my children, and that of students as well. I think it comes from a lifetime of being told to “be careful” , “don’t take risks”, and “stay away from danger”. I think that is where the fear of technology was rooted for me. Before taking EC&I 830 I used my computer for email, google searches, creation of school related word documents, and to check the weather 🙂 (another fear based ritual 🙂
So…. back to privacy policies and open online discussion for students. I am learning to trust that with proper digital citizenship education starting when students are very young, we can set them up to have successful online skills. I now believe, that as young as kindergarten, students should start learning computer skills, including discussions around ‘netiquette’ and online safety. You can check out this link to get ideas about how you might begin to teach internet safety to younger elementary students.
Just like most things that occur in a classroom, online safety is something that needs to be ‘taught’. Obviously with the very young grades, a small controlled environment makes sense. That’s why something like See Saw works well for primary classrooms.
See Saw is an effective tool for teachers to encourage the development of an online community for young primary teachers. It provides easy sign in (through the use of quick QR scanning code). This has the potential to show students about the creation of an online community. They can learn about the intricacies of online interactions in an environment that is controlled by the teacher (with comments requiring approval and giving opportunities for intervention and feedback). Each student is able to login with their own QR code on the same computer, so this is advantageous if there are only one or two devices in a classroom. Creating this opportunity for students to provide feedback and communicate with one another allows teachers to present students with a different form of ‘authentic’ audience. This can encourage students in new ways to do their best work and practice their ‘feedback skills’.
I would like to close this post by commenting on my new relationship with Twitter. It was Stephanie’s post this week that reminded me to think about my own experience with open online spaces. Before this class, even the idea of Twitter did not appeal to me. I thought it was people reaching out to draw attention to things that they were doing/seeing/experiencing. Of course, like anything else, when you don’t understand something – you shouldn’t judge. The class requirement of getting a Twitter account was both intimidating and mildly irritating at first. My sentiment was that if I had wanted to go on Twitter before now – I would have. It is really great to be nudged out of one’s comfort zone and be surprised by how wrong the preconceived notions were. Twitter is an excellent source of information and an invaluable way to build community based on common interests. Good lesson for me ! 🙂