Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners

Considering Student Disclosure and Transparency

There is a real concern among educators about protecting students’ privacy as most of them may not realize how much information they are revealing about themselves.

Professor Terry Anderson, for example, in his blog post about ReThinking Disclosure and Surveillance on his Virtual Canuck blog, sums up his arguments by stating that the “potential harm masks an equally large potential for participation, connection and building of social capital.”

Young people need to have a discussion about the issue surrounding privacy and disclosure within their classes which reminds them of the risks associated with public blogging. My take on this is that students in elementary and secondary schools should be participating within a secure shared blogging space, or, that they use avatars. Yet this might not be enough, if students begin sharing their posts to a wider public on their own external blogs. The issue is contentious, but my view is that students need to be given warnings concerning revealing the following information in the public domain: (It is a given that these details will not be allowed within student blogs.)

This is a starting point for discussion:

  • posts that contain students’ descriptions of their own (or others’)  risky behaviors;
  • posts that contain disparaging, insulting and demeaning comments about others;
  • posts that refer to (or link to) violent, sexually explicit or mature content, such as blog posts, videos, pod-casts, photos, web sites, music, games, etc.
  • posts that describe sexual activity, alcohol use, cigarette use, or drug use;
  • posts that give out personally identifying information, such as an identifiable picture, first names or surnames, and even their own addresses or hometowns.

It is also understood that students’ blog posts to the class blog are moderated by their instructor prior to publishing, and embedded links within posts will be checked for content. Unsuitable content (or content containing inappropriate links) will be deleted/unpublished, and the instructor will follow up directly with the student about the inappropriate content, or links.

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netizenship • June 2, 2014

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