It’s been 4 years, just about, since our first set of technology studio rules were created by middle school students. The rules worked very well: there were only a few, they were positive statements, and easily understood by lower school students.
Computer Use Policy (Old Version)
- Get Permission! (To get online, to make changes, to alter anything, even the furniture)
- Do Take Care of the Hardware (Watch out for cords, keep food away)
- Do ASK before making changes
- Do use computer facilities for legitimate schoolwork only
- Respect others’ work and others!
This year, since I want to lead students into creating more content on the web, I took the opportunity to fold several things into the beginning of the year unit on technology safety and behavior guidelines.
We began with discussing these short videos:
This one, the Ad Council’s public service announcement directing teen girls to “Think Before You Post”
In a brief discussion afterwards, I learned that many students felt that this type of commercial and related news stories were over-emphasizing the dangers and, mostly, serving to make their parents overly fearful. My students felt they understood how to be safe online, and that the dangers were remote.
Obviously, I whipped out two more videos in response–current news stories which I had picked to help us discuss what kinds of things are getting posted, and what very real repercussions they can have. (More examples crop up every day-it’s not hard to pick up current ones.)
I played this story about the alleged blackmail plot against Miss New Jersey, using pictures that she had posted online for “friends only.”
This story of a Pennsylvania college student whose 4 year investment in a teaching career was waylaid at the last moment because she’d posted a picture of herself partying online, even though she was of legal drinking age at the time the picture was taken.
The students and I talked about how families have a very real desire to know that students are not going to be caught by surprise, as the people were in all of these examples. Whether or not what happened to them was unfair or unpredictable, we agreed that parents would like them to minimize risks by putting their best public faces forward.
The middle school students agreed that one good way to reassure their families was to demonstrate that they know how to be safe online by proposing updated rules for our Acceptable Use Policy.
Rules or codes of ethics?
We discussed three models–our old set of rules, a list of 9 rules I had gleaned from another school, and David Warlick’s A Student & Teacher Information Code of Ethics.
David Warlick’s Code of Ethics
points to four areas of concern, and lists proactive considerations that students and teachers should apply to every information decision that they make. …
- Seek Truth and Express It
- Minimize Harm
- Be Accountable
- Respect Information and its Infrastructure
Under each of the four areas, David provided a list of examples of good practice. I really liked David’s work.
The students discussed the three models. They discussed each of David’s four areas. They checked to be sure that everything was addressed that needed to be covered in each of the models. They decided to compose…their own set of rules.
Yep, a set of rules. They felt it will be easier to explain rules to the younger students, and it’ll be simpler to apply. They brainstormed a short but comprehensive set of rules, and are writing them up to propose them to the school. They’ll be posting our rules on their blog, as their first post, as they get adopted.