Category Archives: ethics

NECC, Day 5, ‘With Power Comes Responsibility: Online Awareness, Ethics, and Safety’


 Got to this session late, very well attended, so this is an important issue for many (a detailed outline of the presentation and links can be found here. Mark Wagner is talking about inappropriate content, inappropriate sharing, and threats and cyberbullying (MY COMMENTS IN ALL CAPS).   


  • Citizen journalism

  • Citizen police work

  • Threats, suicides, and risky behavior are often reported.

  • Sting operations online

  • “MySpace is safer for teens than predators”

Students do have 1st Amendment rights. Parody is protected. We cannot control students, we can educate them.

Lack of understanding:

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Vilification of technologies by adults who don’t know the technologies

  • DOPA did nothing for adults or kids, but put more work on schools and libraries ( (MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THIS E.G. HERE AND HERE)

  • Potential for rebellion and destruction of trust

  • Potential

 Legal protections:

Safety tips for students:

  • Don’t share identifying or personal information (privacy for kids is different than it was for us).

  • Do not share provocative images (according to Wagner this is getting better because kids knows parents and schools are looking)

  • Beware of grooming.

  • Consider the consequences and the future.

  • Talk with parents, teachers, or other trusted adults.

Tips for educators:

  • Move computer into shared spaces

  • Watch for alt+tab and alt+F4

  • Check history (is it suspiciously blank?)

  • Beware of reluctance to be candid

Educate yourself:

  • Your kids know more than the news

  • Ask your kids if they’ve been harrassed

  • Ask if they use more than one social network site
    (from Magid and Collier’s MySpace Unraveled)

  • Kids will react strongly to canceled accounts

  • Read the MySpace Terms of Use and Safety Tips

  • Report violations

  • Know the people in your child’s lists

  • View their friends’ profiles

  • Monitor and filter if necessary

Bottom line:

  • communicate with students, parents, other educators, IT, the police

  • confront students who are behaving in irresponsible, inappropriate, or unsafe ways. Do not look the other way.

Take aways:

  • We cannot control students, we can educate them.

  • “Wouldn’t you rather know?”

  • This was a nicely balanced, straight-up presentation, intended to educate, not scare people. It was good to see so many people attended. Wagner also provided a link to a wiki with lots of resources

Tag=n07s707 Blog Posts / Blog RSS / Flickr / Flickr RSS

MySpace Is Mine


Following my last post, it came as no surprise to me that the legal system (in this case the Indiana Court of Appeals has at least began to address the issue of teenagers using MySpace to voice their opinions, even if they are not popular (see the CNN report here and the USA Today article here). According to the ruling (from the CNN report),

A judge violated a juvenile’s free-speech rights when he placed her on probation for posting an expletive-laden entry on MySpace criticizing a school principal, …

The three-judge panel on Monday ordered the Putnam Circuit Court to set aside its penalty against the girl, referred to only as A.B. in court records.

“While we have little regard for A.B.’s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech.”

Apparently, the language used by the student in question wasn’t exactly the greatest, but aside from the fact that this ruling shows that schools are going to have a very difficult time controlling what students post online outside of school, this also goes to show that schools have a responsibility to work with students on issues of ethics and responsibility when it comes to using the Internet. There is no doubt in my mind that First Amendment rights will be staunchly defended by the U.S. legal system, but all of us (including students) need to remember that rights come with responsibilities. Another strong argument for civics and citizenship education in K-12 education…

Image Credit: “Justice”, dweekly’s photostream:

More Good Reasons Why Technology and Media Literacy Should Be a Part of Every Education


Amidst the deluge of posts I’ve been trying to wade through in the past few days is this gem by Vicki Davis, “Spies Like Us“, in which she discusses the implications of evermore wireless and mobile technologies, and what schools should be doing to be better prepared for the influx of mobile devices. As Davis states, banning the devices is not the answer, as students will find ways around that, as the cell phone controversy in New York City has shown.

Davis proposes that schools:

  1. update acceptable use policies;
  2. come to an understanding that the new school hours are 24/7;
  3. understand the importance of technology education including ethics;
  4. understand that blocking doesn’t protect your school from the technology and its uses;
  5. understand that information does not travel in straight lines.

Very well said, and I would like to add the following:

   6.  understand that the new school “day” goes beyond the brick and mortar of the school building. School has become much more of a process than a place (to go along with #2).  This also has implications for school policies, because where do you draw the line as far as school authorities being able to interfere with what kids do outside of school? An excerpt of an article of mine that will be published in Innovate this spring:

Because the online world and new technologies are blurring boundaries between school and the rest of the world, educational institutions are debating where to draw the line when it comes to regulating student use of the Internet. Many schools now have policies that hold students responsible for their online actions outside of school, and more and more students are being punished for what they post on the Internet. For example, in North Carolina, a student was suspended for 10 days for posting an altered picture of his school’s assistant principal on MySpace (Student Press Law Center, 2005).


These developments have raised First Amendment and free speech issues for students. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that high school students have First Amendment rights at school, but speech that “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is … not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech,” with the burden of proof on schools (U.S. Supreme Court, 1969). School administrators now argue that the “substantial disruption” standard from the Tinker decision should apply to what students do outside of school, including online. Civil liberties attorneys have countered by saying that what students do and say outside of school should be the parents’ responsibility, and that schools are overstepping their boundaries, especially when students are critical of the schools they attend.

I wholeheartedly agree that blocking or banning is not the answer. Not only are those attempts futile ones in many cases, but we lose the opportunities that we have to teach students about the ethics of technology use, which, like Davis writes, is another critical component of a technology education for kids. In fact, many state and national standards include standards on ethics, for example ISTE’s:

  • Students understand the ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.
  • Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity. (ISTE, 2005).

In fact, in ISTE’s proposed new technology standards for students, as blogged about by Julie Lindsay, ethics will take on an even more prominent role, as part of a section called “Digital Citizenship”. And by the way, I agree with Julie in that the standards, including the ethical ones, should be given a more global “flavor”.


As I said, great post by Vicki Davis; as far as I’m concerned it should be required reading for all teachers, administrators, and parents (and kids too)…



Image Credit: “James Bond’s Little Nellie”, Elsie esq.’s photostream: