AUP- Course 2 Final Project

While the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP G4/5) at ISB still requires some refining, we have come to realize that our teaching of what the AUP actually means is more important to our students right now. As the students in Grades 3, 4 and 5 are using their own student blogs more often in the classroom and at home, and have access to student emails and Google docs, it has become clear that we need to revise the AUPs with the students and explicitly show them what safety, responsibility, respect and honesty online look like.

What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say? by cherylt on GoAnimate

Video Maker – Powered by GoAnimate.

Along with Jaclynn Mac, and with the assistance of Chrissy Hellyer, our Technology Learning Coach, and Tara Ethridge, our ES Librarian, we considered the needs of elementary school students at a variety of levels. While Grade 5 teachers and fellow coetailers, Stacie Melhorn and Sarah Fleming focused on simplifying the AUP, Chrissy and Tara used GoAnimate to address issues of acceptable use in Grades 2 and 3. Jaclynn and I chose to revise our AUPs with our grade levels, Kindergarten and Grade 4.

Currently in the upper elementary school, a number of breaches are occurring. Some of these include:

  • Students “posing” as other students (not accessing another’s account – but writing another’s name & using another’s blog URL & email address to “pose” as that student) (breech of 1.2)
  • Logging in as someone else (gained access to someone’s password & login) (breech of 1.2)
  • Use of copyright images all over the place (breech of 3.1)
  • Sending emails without a purpose (ie: hi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and nothing else) (breech of 4.8)
  • Using instant messaging,chat without teacher permission or misuse of chat and or instant message (breech of 4.7)
  • Deleting others work (files off the laptop or work off a gdoc) (breech of 1.1)
  • Changing the settings of laptops without teacher permission (breech of 2.2, 2.3 – although we have locked down the laptops more since these types of breeches)

In order to address these breaches and continue to develop collaborative partnerships within the elementary school, Jaclynn Mac and I decided that a Kindergarten-Grade 4 project would provide a great opportunity for Grade 4 students to help Kindergartners develop their knowledge of the Acceptable Use Policy while building on their own understanding of respect, responsibility, safety and honesty (see Course 2 Final Project for the Kindergarten process). Upon further discussion with Chrissy Hellyer and Tara Ethridge, GoAnimate appeared to be the perfect tool to make the project both fun and meaningful for the students.

A Kindergarten-Grade 4 collaborative project is, of course, one that requires thought, planning and careful organization. The project also had to be divided into several parts to address the AUP at both levels of the elementary school, ensure the students could evaluate and process the AUP and provide opportunities for collaboration.

Our first step was to review the AUP with each of our classes. While Jaclynn identified key parts of the Kindergarten AUP and provided her students the opportunity to create skits focusing on the main forms of technology used in KG, Tara Ethridge helped my class revise our AUP using a simplified Grade 2/3 version. I then created a GoAnimate video to sow the seed: What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say?

So, what’s next? In class, we will review the Grade 4 AUP. To give the students an opportunity to analyze, evaluate and understand the AUP, they will work in pairs to highlight the key ideas. They will then construct a Top 10 list of the ten most important ideas with their partner. Creating a storyboard for a GoAnimate video of one of the key ideas will complete the process.

This is an example of how their animated videos may look:

A Nasty Blog Message by cherylt on GoAnimate

Make Movie – Powered by GoAnimate.

After reflecting on the successes and challenges of the project, the Grade 4 students will consider how they can teach the process of creating a GoAnimate video with Kindergartners. This will not only help scaffold the process for the Kindergarten class, but it will make the AUP and creation of animated stories accessible to their age group. The students in 4 Terry will preview their buddies’ videoed skits and assist them in creating a storyboard for their animated movie. They’ll begin by transcribing the script of the skit, teasing out the action and content as appropriate.

In the final step, the collaborative groups will create their animated videos using GoAnimate. A final viewing will help to reinforce the main ideas of the AUP and showcase their creations. We hope that the extended process will allow students to use many of the steps of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and construct a sound understanding of our school’s Acceptable Use Policy.

Wonders of the Web

My use of the Web and blogs has escalated over the past few months as a direct result of the COETAIL course. While I had my own class blog and my students had created their own personal blogs as e-portfolios, neither had been used to its true potential. With guidance from Jeff Utecht in COETAIL course readings and the help of Chrissy Hellyer, our ES Technology Coach, I have stepped up my own blogging skills and those of my students. My most important learning was that I should be a mentor for my students and guide them in what a quality blog post looks like by using my own blog as an examplar.

Some rights reserved by Laughing Squid

While I’ve been using blogs as a learning tool over the past three years at the International School Bangkok, I’ve found it difficult to find the time to update our class blog. Now, by using the power of images or video, I am able to make quick posts with thought provoking questions. I’ve still got a long way to go but, boy has it made a difference in the quality of my students’ blogs.

My students and I are now aiming to make quality blog posts, using hyperlinks, asking questions to draw in readers and make connections to our learning. Our goal is to encourage our readers to comment and make our blog posts viewer friendly. By embedding YouTube videos and other digital products such as VoiceThread and Photo Peach our posts have become more visually appealing. We’re all hoping to connect more with our readers and create our Personal Learning Networks (PLN). By reading others’ blogs and commenting, we hope to build up our readers and share our thinking and creations globally. There are still many more people lurking on our blogs, myself included, but I’m hoping that over time we’ll all get better at leaving comments and connecting with our global friends.

Some rights reserved by Divergent Learner

Now, the next step is to continue to build our PLN. By connecting with fellow COETAILers, Emily Roth and Brad Thies, we hope to share our learning and connect with digital tools such as Twitter and Skype. Inspired by fellow COETAILer, Ben Sheridan, our aim is to create a PLN on Twitter to connect our classes in a similar vein to Sheridan’s Twitter project. A Skype call between our classes will also be a great way to follow up the top 10 lists of our class favorite reads we shared.

Right now, the world is our oyster. With so many inspired teachers involved in the COETAIL program, and great mentors such as Jeff Utecht and Chrissy Hellyer at our fingertips, we have unlimited opportunities to make global connections and collaborate.

Time is always our biggest challenge, and over the coming months I’ll be working on finding more effective ways to integrate technology into the classroom. Building PLNs, creating effective blogs that draw in readers and experimenting with new digital tools in the classroom to create global connections, are all on the agenda.





Staying Safe Online- Whose Responsibility is it?

Whose responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online?

As educators, it’s our role to promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions. Students need to be aware that their behavior and actions online have an impact on others, so we should guide them to make appropriate choices. Much of the online activity that students participate in takes place at home, however, so it’s important for parents to be informed as well. Together we must help both students and parents gain an awareness of the good, the bad and the ugly of the digital world.

Some rights reserved by FunnyBiz

Where is the first place I go for help on online safety and cyberbullying? No other than our fantastic Technology Coach, Chrissy Hellyer. At International School Bangkok, our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is clear. There is No Room For Tolerance. But detecting cyberbullying is no always easy, so it’s necessary to educate students on how bullying looks online and how they can deal with it.

In conjunction with the counselors, our technology coach helps students to understand online safety. In particular, Chrissy Hellyer likes to talk about YAPPY and SMART rules. This helps students understand what information is safe to share online and what we should keep private to protect ourselves. Professor Garfield seems to be a particularly fun character to help introduce the idea of cyberbullying.

Understanding and eradicating cyberbullying, however is not as simple as it seems. As Danah Boyd states in “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, “If we want to combat bullying, we need to start by understanding the underlying dynamics.” That’s where counselors need to be part of the process. Teens often desperately seek attention and enjoy drama. As Boyd continues, “Girls ostracize one another either because of personal collisions or in support of their friends’ dramas. They make each other miserable by spreading rumors or gossiping behind their back. Technology is employed in efforts to humiliate, deprecate, or isolate. The end result for girls tends to be verbal and emotional torment.” While boys interact in other ways, they too need to be aware of the power of their words.

Some rights reserved by AVG Technologies

While cyberbullying is a complicated issue to tackle, Boyd seems to hit the nail on the head. “Combating bullying is not going to be easy, but it’s definitely not going to happen if we don’t dive deep in the mess that underpins it and surrounds it. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life.” (“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers)

Digital citizenship should be actively taught, alongside online safety, but we should be building up students’ self esteem, and helping them to gain a sense of personal identity at the same time. Creating a positive digital footprint is an important part in this process, as is focusing on personal virtues. If students have a strong sense of right and wrong, and how to treat others in a positive way, then cyberbullying should only occur as isolated incidents.

As John Merrow states in Teaching kids to be ‘digital citizens’ (not just ‘digital natives’), “Because (students) are using technology to create and are enjoying the fruits of their labor, they will be, I believe, less likely to use technology’s power negatively. Strong in their own sense of self, they are less likely to feel the need to bully and cyber-bully others.”




Do You Have the Right to Use It?

How often have you seen students paste in images they’ve found on Google into projects? How about taking music from YouTube and inserting them into slideshows? Copyright and giving credit to the authors of work often go by the wayside in Asia and other parts of the developing world. But is this fair? What is our obligation as educators?

Some rights reserved by MikeBlogs

Since starting at the International School Bangkok, when I was first introduced to Compfight, I’ve encouraged students to use safe tools to search for images and give attributions (with a lot of support from our fantastic Technology Coach, Chrissy Hellyer). It is amazing to see how quickly most students catch onto this, how eloquently they can talk about copyright symbols and what they stand for, and how easily they can find and attribute images to enhance their work. This is ultimately the goal we should aim for as teachers, and we should advocate for fair use of media in the classroom.

This is not to say that everything goes 100% smoothly all the time. Some students take a long time to copy and paste attributions. Others lose documents and attributions. And of course there are always those who turn up to class with projects plastered with pictures taken straight from Google searches. Do I toss their work into the bin? Certainly not. But I do talk about my expectations and how I would like them to search for and cite the creator of images in the future.

What are the implications of this? Only that we should continue to talk about fair use of media in the classroom and instil the idea that we are using products that some people rely on for their livelihood. We may be in their position at some stage in our lives and do we want people taking our ideas and using them as their own? This is also the case for many of us who live in Asia or other parts of the world where Copyright laws are lax or don’t exist. It’s our job to inform students of their rights and responsibilities, and then encourage them to make informed decisions.

Some rights reserved by laihiu

As with Doug Johnson, my educational philosophy is that education is about teaching people to think rather than to believe. Johnson states that we also ‘need to help individual students arrive at personal comfort levels when using protective creative works’ (How We Teach Copyright).

This is also the case when using other forms of media, such as videos, music and clip art. YouTube is quick to take down videos which have used music without permission, and often this is just a genuine oversight on the part of the creator.

Creative Commons is the key to using images without infringing copyright laws. Creative Commons licences also give users the opportunity to use music, clip art and other forms of media with few complications. The only obligation is to check the Creative Commons licences, which often involve simply giving attributions for the images. Most often the authors also do not wish users to alter their work or make money from them either.

Other sites which provide links to Creative Commons media are Jamendo, for sources of copyright free music, the Open Clip Art Library, for accessible clip art, and SpinXpress for other forms of media.

In today’s age of technology, our access to digital tools and media is seemingly unlimited. But we do have the obligation to consider our use of digital media and give credit where it’s due. By using tools such as the Fair Use Evaluator, we can also assess our use of resources as educators in the classroom. Emphasizing the use of Creative Commons through sites such as Compfight or Wylio is the key to success with students. Informing students of the tools at their fingertips and their responsibilities as digital users will help all of us utilize the many resources available to us in the best possible way.




Privacy Online- An Unrealistic Dream?

Is there such a thing as privacy online?

Watching What FACEBOOK and GOOGLE are Hiding from world opened my eyes to the manipulation of searches and information online. Who would’ve known that search results on Google are different from person to person, based on a few clicks of the computer? Not only is information often personalized, down to the news available to us on well-known news sites, but we are not in control of what we get to see and don’t get to see. As Eli Parisher states, people need to see things that are challenging and uncomfortable to expose them to different points of view. Controlling what we view, based on algorithms that classify us into boxes, takes away our rights to choose what we see and discern for ourselves what is happening in the world around us.

YouTube Preview Image

Parisher talks of filter bubbles, or tailored searches, which control what users should view. So we don’t decide what gets in or, more importantly, what gets left out. In a world where the news media is so tightly controlled by a small number of people in power, it’s even more disconcerting that our online activity and searches are also manipulated. Is this the age of information junkfood where we find no balance in what we view online?

Some rights reserved by DonkeyHotey

Users not only need to develop a sense civil responsibility, but also an awareness of privacy settings and manipulation of the Internet. A few years ago I discovered the need to make my Facebook page and other social networking sites private. Now only my friends have access to my personal details and private photos. I am even more careful about who I grant ‘friend’ privileges too. Of course, it is possible to sort friends into categories and give them varying degrees of access to your personal information as well. I also became aware that adding apps to my Facebook page often gave others access to my private information, therefore I changed my privacy settings through the use of https://.

As students are building their digital profiles, they also need to be aware that what they post is available to the world and can be viewed by others around the globe. In today’s world,          Privacy= Responsible use of images and personal details online.

We are therefore responsible for educating students on how to use online tools responsibly, to protect both themselves and others. Effectively informing students so they are able to create a Positive Digital Footprint and keep themselves and others safe should be our goal, hard as it may be.

For our school, International School Bangkok, that means utilizing the skills of Technology Coaches and others who are well-informed on technology issues. Chrissy Hellyer, our Elementary School Technology Coach, speaks often of YAPPY when discussing online safety. Our school year begins with a focus on online safety, with the help of Professor Garfield or Jennifer and Shannon.

There are many other tools available online for teaching online safety and creating positive digital footprints, including Digital footprints, Being Smart OnlineCybersmart and Cybersmart teaching resources.

Some rights reserved by ElectronicFrontierFoundation

Privacy issues continue to become more complicated, however, as we introduce more advanced tools. Use of Google docs introduces both email and chat functions to students. This opens up another bag of worms. How much limitation should be placed on email and chat forums? Students need to learn how to use these tools responsibly and effectively as they will be exposed to them throughout their lives. We all know that, even as adults, we are tempted by chat forums, Skype, Facebook and email. Our attention can be easily diverted through these features available to us. They also open up many more issues about online safety and who you should chat with or email.

Currently, the biggest tool used by students around the world is Facebook. While it offers many opportunities for students to connect, build social networks and create a positive digital footprint through joining groups that matter to them, students need to be aware that their personal information may be shared as a result of their online activity. Although Facebook has a minimum age of 13, many students in Grades 4 and 5 have Facebook accounts. I don’t believe that parents often understand the implications of online tools and are aware of the issues involved in online privacy. While we don’t want to be scaremongerers, Grade 4 and 5 students often lack the maturity necessary to evaluate images and consider the consequences of their posts.

Online privacy and safety are both the biggest concerns today and the hardest to address. How do we inform students without scaring them? I believe that making students aware of how information is used and who can access their personal information is a good place to start. Teachers don’t always need all the answers, but we do need to question and instil curiosity in our students. So, keep asking questions and discussing the big issues in your classroom. As a class, try to create rules and guidelines to help keep each other safe. Model the way you use online tools and how you keep yourself safe, and talk about questions you’re thinking about and new information you’ve discovered.

Our job is to empower students and get them ready for the future. The future is ever-changing and so is technology, so prepare students to delve into issues, question and most importantly, be aware. With more and more control over information, awareness is the key to digger deeper, discovering what is really happening and keeping ourselves both safe and informed.



How Large is Your Digital Footprint?

Digital footprints. We bandy about the phrase all the time, but what does it really mean? All we seem to want to do as educators is scare students and make them aware of how vulnerable they are online. But there is more to digital footprints than meets the eye. As William M. Ferriter states, creating a Positive Digital Footprint is in fact more important and effective than scare tactics.

Some rights reserved by pixelsrzen

Ferriter‘s article opened my eyes to the trap that schools regularly fall into, and the one-sided concept of a negative digital footprint. We all seem to be caught up in sensational stories about cyberbullying, sexting, and Internet predation (Positive Digital Footprint). All our energy has often been focused on safety, predators and scary stuff. Ferriter, on the other hand, is focused on empowering digital natives and providing them with the tools necessary to survive in the modern world.

We live in an ever-changing world, and educators need to adapt and flow with the times. That’s the power of the COETAIL online course for my own ongoing education. It opens my eyes to new ways of looking at issues and ideas which are important to youth today. As Ferriter informs us in Positive Digital Footprint, scaremongering is ‘ineffective at changing student behaviors’ (Online Safety and Technology Working Group, 2010), and also ‘prevents students from seeing digital footprints as potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations.’

So, as Dan Bentley states, and Will Richardson (2008) implies, ‘The big question is, what would be worse, a possible employer finding some not so flattering stuff about us, or not finding anything at all?’ (Stay Anonymous…Just You Try) This is an issue I hadn’t considered before and I was, until now, quite happy flying ‘under the Google search radar’. In previous Google searches I had happily seen that I remained fairly anonymous and my personal details, and more importantly photos, were safe and secure. My latest Google search is quite different. While my personal information and photos remain private, I now feature on a wiki, Twitter, my COETAIL blog and LinkedIn, amongst others. In other words, I now have a positive digital footprint.

Some rights reserved by Martin_Heigan

As Richardson stresses, we should now be concerned about the consequences for kids who can’t be found online, rather than teaching students to worry about the consequences of being found online (Positive Digital Footprint). That’s not to say we should forget about online safety altogether.  Instead we should focus on differentiation in the digital classroom, just as we do every day in every other subject. In a tiered approach, all students should receive basic training about responsible online behaviors, while at-risk students receive more targeted instruction. Creating positive digital footprints is obviously an issue which needs to be discussed in schools more readily. Counselors and technology coaches should play an active role, working alongside classroom teachers to inform and advise students on how to create a positive digital profile.

This has great potential and implications in international schools. Global citizenship plays such a large role in our schools, so students should be strongly encouraged to create social networks with like-minded peers who care about the same issues. There should be a focus on creating an online identity – their own personal brand. (Would You Hire You?). On the flip side, students need to be aware of their prospects and clean up their networking profiles (Your Online Reputation Can Hurt Your Job Search). They should be shown how to evaluate their digital footprints and reflect on how they are portraying themselves to university admissions officers and potential employers (Companies Using Social-Networks to hire employees is on the rise). As getting admitted to the ‘right’ university is so important in international schools, creating a positive profile is vital to our students’ futures.

Take one (positive) step forward, this is just the beginning!