About Thinks

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Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

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Think long, think on.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Computer/Internet use agreements

Image source http://www.kidsmart.org.uk

Thanks to a comment made by Peter Kent I have been chewing on this issue over the last two weeks. There is not a lot that can be done about it on a school level. It's just a thought for the policy makers out there ...






CONTEXT

I was at a panel discussion at the IWB.net conference run by Peter Kent. As we were walking into the room he suggested that this discussion was for principals and policy makers. Being neither of these things I nearly made the decision to leave but in the end I stayed.

During this discussion Peter Kent made the comment that in Australia's ACT they have done away with computer and internet use agreements. This was met with many a gasp (including my own).

He then converted me:

The use of computers and internet is integrated meaningfully through our entire curriculum. Should we be denying children their right to learn if they (or their parents) refuse to sign an agreement? Imagine a scenario where we could say,
"today we are learning about cats in the library (except you Ruth you haven't signed the safe use of library agreement, I have something else for you)..."

I accept that many things can go wrong on the internet, but many things can go wrong with ALL tools we use in the classroom and beyond. When things go wrong- or look like they can potentially go wrong - it is our job as educators to deal with it, and educate our children so that they can learn from their mistakes.

If a child threatens another child with scissors, we remove the scissors, we have discussions about the scissors, we reiterate what behaviour is expected when using scissors and eventually we give the child another opportunity with the scissors. We do not demand that every child (and their family) sign a scissor safety agreement before being allowed to use them. We assume that our children will act within the rules and take action if they don't.

Why do we assume the worst for Internet use?

BUT WHAT IF A CHILD STUMBLES UPON INTERNET PORN?

I have been using the Internet since 1995. The internet was so slow back then that you had to click on a button called "auto load images" to stop the images being loaded. Once you could see what was on the page (5 minutes later) you would then make the decision whether or not you were willing to commit to the page.

Since 1995 I have NEVER 'stumbled upon porn'. The closest I have come is seeing questionable thumbnails on an image search (but that has been more GORE than PORN) and sometimes if you mistype a web address you can see something you are not looking for. I have read cases where peoples caches have 'magically filled up with porn' but they must have downloaded some kind of wacky programme for some 'other' reason. Generally school filtering systems are pretty good. Programmes can not be downloaded without an admin password.

And if my child was to accidentally 'stumble' across something that was not appropriate I would hope that they had been given some kind of education about how to deal with that.

Speaking of my children, my delightful eldest child and his mates thought it would be funny to image search for 'jugs' in their year 6 class at school. We were all hauled in to discuss it. Funnily enough the internet use agreement that all the boys signed was not considered by ANY of the boys before they made the decision to search for jugs. Internet use agreement or not, behaviour like that can be dealt with by schools without having to wave a piece of paper around. It doesn't make anyone less liable.

INTERNET PREDATORS

In outdoor ed we don't flatten the mountains to stop children falling from cliffs. In aquatic education we do not drain the pools, lakes and oceans. In hard materials education we do not remove all the sharp implements. We educate our children so that they can keep themselves safe. So why is the Internet any different?

Internet predators are taking the same spot as 'stranger danger' did when I was at school. Check the child abuse stats - it's not really strangers and internet predators that are hurting the majority of our children, is it? *Interesting* added Aug 16th 2010

CYBER BULLYING

Do we sign a playground use agreement before we are allowed to play outside? Educate the bully, educate the victim. The answer is NOT to say, "Perhaps you shouldn't play in the playground if you are going to get bullied..." surely?

Schools should be integrating the use of ICT throughout the entire curriculum. If this is the case, every child has the right to be a part of this.

My edtalk on this ... http://edtalks.org/video/do-we-need-cybersafety-agreements

1 comment:

  1. Great post Tara:-) Will be sharing this as food for thought for other teachers. I look forward to the day when it is all so much easier - no user agreements OR permissions required would make learning by teachers and children a dream!

    ReplyDelete