Category Archives: course 2

Course 2 Final Project

As I began my journey to acceptable use policy (AUP) creation, I took the obvious first step.  I sought out the IT department at my current school and requested a copy.  The student hand book refers to an AUP that the students are asked to sign each year, so I assumed there would be one in existence.

At YIS the high school students are required to bring laptops.  The middle schoolers are requested to bring one when a teacher asks.  Students have mandatory IT classes from Kindergarten through grade 9, with optional courses in grade 10, 11 and 12.  Yet there appears to be no AUP.  At least not one that I could locate; thus, reaffirming the school’s need for this type of document. I also had to accept that I would be starting from scratch. (Note: Two of the documents would not load due to security reasons.)

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Luckily, I joined forces with Marcello and Andre to start a conversation and the gathering of ideas.  We utilized Dropbox to keep track of the example AUPs we discovered to draw from.  We started a written conversation on Google docs to bounce ideas off each other.

Once I began examining AUPs that we had gathered, I realized that an AUP for YIS must be simple and clear.  The students are unfamiliar with such a document, plus our entire population is made up of non-native speakers.  Looking at the document from Concordia, I determined that I would need a numbered list rather than paragraphs for easier presentation to the students.  Examining TAISM’s policy, I noticed many regulations for the students that YIS would not be able to enforce.  We don’t have the infrastructure and blocking capabilities as well as no school email addresses for students.  Mount Kiara and SIS (my former school) have AUPs that are fitting for my students; short and clear.  They also leave room for issues that might arise but were not explicitly stated, providing the school with more flexibility.

I choose the short list with additional explanations for both the students and the teachers who are unfamiliar with the idea of an AUP.  This allows a quick glance at the basics, yet provides details.  One of the most important items to include on an AUP in Myanmar is avoiding slowing down the network.  Students frequently forget this message and are found downloading large quantities of information, bringing the network to a halt.

Presenting this high school/middle school document to the students should be primarily in the hands of the IT department.  With the grade 6-9 students in required classes, it’s the logical space to present the material.  I showed this document to my English department colleague who helped me continue to edit the information and readily agreed to present the material in his classes to grade 10-12.   Each section will need to be reviewed and taught as our students are unfamiliar with this type of document.  Through discussion and review with the IT coordinator, he agreed that this AUP would suit our school needs.

In the end I sought out the help of Jason Spivey (ADE) who teaches high school social studies with me.  Together we discussed point by point what our students need to understand before this policy could be implemented and the necessary wording.  We also discussed the difficulty in adding a section about copyright as most programs are not available in Myanmar with using a pirated version.  We did set a time to review this part of the AUP and consider adding a section involving use of Creative Commons and the citation of others‘ work.  For now, I feel it can be covered by teaching the students about the issues covered in this AUP and the idea of respecting others.

Before this document will be presented to our administration (the goal is implementation in the secondary next school year) I will be attaching links to each expectation.  Each link will be an article that helps demonstrate the need for the statement.  This link will provide additional information for administration and parents.  Please check back in the near future for my links.

Endless Connections

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The Web.  It’s a seemingly endless supply of information.  Anything can be found; lesson plans, news, a tracker for my training schedule, just to name a few.  The power the internet holds is knowledge and connections.  The web allows anyone with the tech capabilities to access knowledge and the global community.

Being the social creature that I am, the web appeals to me as a method of maintaining connections to my friends.  Sure, the obtaining of knowledge is a great side effect, but I would still rather visit a library.  In addition, things like banking and buying flights have become so much a part of my online experience that I am not sure that I could even check my balance or buy a flight without a computer.  Have I become that dependent upon technology and the ease that it provides?

Perhaps it’s my general lack of organization, but I am frequently overwhelmed by the information that I have obtained online.  I have no set method for organizing my documents or bookmarks.  I spend more time than I would like to admit searching of things that I have already discovered.  This maybe the number one reason I chose to use the internet as a means of socializing rather than knowledge acquisition.

But the web boils down to one important thing: connections.  Everything is connected on the web.  Connections make everything easier to find, to search, to lose yourself in the sea of global information. Connections are what keeps us coming back to the web for more.

AUP Discussion

Marcello, Andre and I have been discussing an appropriate AUP for our schools via Google docs.  Join in the discussion!

Did you get the message?

Bullying is nothing new.  Sitcoms and bad teen movies always highlight the bully character with humor or glamor.  They never fade away in the distance, texting from a bathroom stall or insulting their victims online through Facebook.  Bullies are front and center, tormenting their victims in full public view.  However, cyberbullying has changed the traditional model of bullying and allowed teenagers to hide their deeds.  These same teenagers ignore the evidence of their own bullying, claiming they are just teasing.

Dana Boyd’s article illustrated one of the greatest obstacles in the fight against cyberbullying.  The simple use of the word bullying can shut students off to the message you are trying to relay.  By the end of the week they will be teasing each other and yelling, “stop bullying me” through their laughter.  We need a new term; a new way to explain the effects of bullying.  Without it, how will the students take us seriously?

Sadly, the most effective moment I have had as a teacher with combatting cyberbullying came at a cost.  Three of my grade 7s were victims of a Facebook prank that can only be described as bullying.  A profile was created with their names.  Once this profile friended other students, the students at YIS discovered the profile was less than complimentary.  It was a horrible collection of insults that also involved fake connection to additional students.  The bully managed to victimize several students in one attack.  This profile was immediately brought to my attention and we launched an investigation.  Although we never discovered the identify of the bully, the grade 7 was quick to point fingers and circle the wagons.  Both the grade 7 and 8 students who had received and accepted friend request felt they shared part of the blame, and were sicken by it.  They all felt the power of a cyberbully.  We had frequent discussions over the week about how to prevent this type of activity, how great it was they came to the safe adults in their lives to have them help, and how powerless they all felt in the the shadow of the “Facebook Incident”.

Reading the article School head called parents in cyberbully case made me wonder what would have happened to the student if they had been caught.  How would their parents react?  How much are schools really allowed to step in when it comes to out of school bullying?

Schools need to protect their students.  Teachers need to take the opportunities to point out the danger of cyberbullying in the same manner they would stop students for bullying each other in class.  Forget the labels; just talk with kids about the behavior and the consequences.  Admin needs to create policies to support the message “we don’t tolerate bullies here”.  Consequences need to be followed up on, students need to be believed when they approach the safe adults.  It is our duty as educators to ensure our students feel safe and security, even in our off time.

Come on, Copyright! Adapt!

First thing I noticed in both articles this week is the reference to lawyers. Both authors were quick to point out that they don’t have legal training,which to me simply highlights the complexity of the copyright issue.  With all the grey areas, it appears one needs a legal degree to truly stick to the letter of the law and sleep well at night with the knowledge they have not indeed broken any copyright laws. So what is a layperson to do?

Living in Asia the line between acceptable copyright violation and illegal activity is blurred.  In my current host country, Myanmar, I have no idea where to purchase legal versions of computer programs or movies.  Our book club regularly has books copied since we can’t access the real version to buy them.  The embassy workers are not permitted to go out and copy the books, but they seem perfectly okay to hand over 4,000 kyatt for a newly copied book.

Permission granted by Luke Weimerskirch (my friend)

 

The lack of enforceable  laws on the internet makes me nervous to post student work or, even more terrifying, student photos.  How can I be a part of the online collaborative world without opening myself and my students up to privacy violation?

The short answer is you can’t. Once on the web, you lose at least a piece of your privacy and right to your work.  It is an exercise in trust.  You have to trust that the people who want to use your work or image will do so after asking your permission or in a way you would agree with.  We have to trust that Alison Chang’s experience is an anomaly. YouTube Preview Image

I model for my students the moral ways of borrowing items from the internet  I even emailed the Purdue OWL group to ask permission to put their link on my site. I struggle with the question posed this week by Jeff, “How do we teach copyright in Asia, in countries where international copyright law is not followed to begin with?”  It is truly an uphill battle.  Without access to the “real” version of books and movie and programs by asking my students to stick to copyright laws, I am asking them to deny themselves information.

In the end, it’s clear that copyright must change.  The world is changing;our access to information is changing; the notion of intellectual property must change to meet the demands of the online age.

Fishbowl

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Isn’t the internet just one giant fishbowl?  Or can we call that an aquarium?  The world can see your every movement online and examine your online personality as long as they know how and where to search. People can find the “real” you online.   Anyone who thinks they are hiding online is dead wrong.  Your online life is open for the world to see.  You must embrace this idea, or learn to live offline.  Warning: this fishbowl comes equipped with a search engine.

The article Beware: the Internet could own your future lays out the potential pitfalls of life online.  The idea that nothing is ever deleted is frighting. Luckily my online life didn’t begin until college.  But what if I had been posting in middle school?  Certainly the comments would make me cringe, not to mention the photos!

I did attempt to Google myself and little was surprised that nothing unexpected came up.  Should I be saddened at my lack of online scandal or excited that I have managed to remain below the radar?  I value my privacy, particularly in my personal life.  Putting my professional self online for all to see is easy.  I have few reservations about projecting my professional self online.  I have several class blogs and use Altas Rubicon to post my curriculum for the online teaching community to see.  But then there is the personal me.  I explain the difference to my students using my two Facebook profiles.  “There is the teacher me, Miz Leonardis.  But there is another me, Sarah Leonardis.  I am not sure the two mes would get along.  The other me does exist, but you guys don’t need to know her.”  I must have the division.  The internet makes it difficult.  With the fishbowl, I can’t hide.  If someone really wants to find me, they will.

Part of me wants to get offline to never return and retreat to my place of privacy and anonymity.  Yet the other part of me knows that it’s impossible.  If you want to be a part of today’s society, you must be online.  We have built a society that doesn’t allow one to maintain a sense of privacy if you want to be a part of what is happening.

Still, as much as “they” are watching you, you are watching them.

Who are you online?

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I am friends on Facebook with many former students.  I follow the rule that once we are no longer in the same country, I will allow them to be my friend on Facebook.  I am often shocked and disappointed at what my former students are posting.  Although many of them I got to know in a social setting, I stunned to see who they are online.  Their comments create the image of extreme ravers and foul-mouthed sailors. Yet this is not who my former students are.  Would I hire them after college?  Not a chance.  In this digital age, students need to learn that everything they post online is out there for the world to see and formulate an opinion about who they are, and leave lasting impressions on people they have never met.

In China, I used Edmodo to teach my students how to be responsible online.  In essence, Edmodo is Facebook for educators.  I would post discussion questions and homework and other school related information.  Students would comment and start interesting conversations.  Naturally, since I was teaching grade 6, my students would often push the boundaries of what was acceptable online.  I was able to use the inappropriate comments as a teaching point.  The students discussed what impressions they got from their classmates comments.  We often would discuss the greater implications of comments and how they would transfer to their personal lives on social network sites.  It was an effective tool that I felt helped shape my students’ digital footprint.

After a quick search online, I found this article that supports what I was trying to do with my students through Edmodo.  It explains how students do not understand the gravity of their online activity.  It also shows how to use the applications that are available for Facebook and Twitter to be able to reflect on your digital footprint for the year.  Students need to examine who they are presenting themselves as online.

As an educator, I hear rumors of recruiters that ask to see your Facebook profile during interviews, or search for you online.  I actually find this frightening, not because my digital persona is one to be embarrassed by, but it remains me of the idea that teachers must be saints.  We are often not allowed to appear to be regular people.  How can I separate the online me from the online teacher me?

Connections!

Technology is slowly chipping away at my protective shell. Being the social creature I am, I am discovering the beauty of socializing online.  I am beginning to make online connections and use the internet as a convenient way to continue to other relationships that began offline.

Let’s start with Andre DeKoker.  We met in China in 2008, working together at SIS.  I hold Andre responsible for my participation in this course.  The two of us have been through a lot together during are short friendship.  Despite having lived on two different continents for the past couple of years, Andre is a great source of support, and I admit that my COETAIL questions are directed at Andre first.  I feel free to sound stupid and use him as a sounding board. The internet has allowed us to continue our friendship and maintain a collaborative spirit.

And then there are my new connections through COETAIL.  Sure, I had other meet and greets on the internet previous to my COETAIL experience, but this course has allowed me to expand my network of online contacts.  The most exciting part has been meeting these online contacts in real life.  I went to a yoga class on the shores of Inya Lake in Yangon.  In between downward facing dog and a couple of sun salutations, I looked over to see Kate, my fellow COETAILer.  I also ran into Kate in the Yangon airport and convinced her to embrace the duty free whiskey in preparation for our flight to EARCOS.  Photo coming soon!

 

While at EARCOS I finally met Jeff Utecht, who gave me some great running advice.  Sure, we could be talking about technology, but we were able to connect about long distance running.  And, I finally found a great long distance run in BKK.

 

There are countless other connections I have made just from COETAIL alone (like the woman I met in the bathroom who presented at the conference on her final project).  In the end, I realize that the online world and real life are starting to blur and compliment each other.

The connections are what really matters in both worlds.