Keep it Simple, Keep it Safe-Ethical considerations with tech and my students

This is the approach I take when it comes to my job as an educator. Christine talked about using and sharing resources and Bart mentioned sharing student work as ethical concerns they, and I, face daily. Will I do better at referencing photos I use in my lessons and give attribution to authors and colleagues? YES! Will I consider the page limit to photocopying and the streaming site permissions? I should start! The most important ethical concern for me when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom whether using online platforms to communicate or assist in learning outcomes is student privacy. I always refer back to the LAFOIP policy whenever I am unsure about something because I quite frankly do not want to lose my job over a fancy new idea.

Photo: openeducationalberta.ca

As Dylan outlined, educators must act in ‘loco parentis’, which means we must protect and act in our students’ best interest. To ensure I don’t cross any boundaries or ruffle any feathers I always use platforms and applications that are encouraged and supported by my division. I always set expectations and procedures to maximize student comfort and safety and ensure all students have the opportunity to engage in the digital learning experience.

For example, I love the fun and exciting things you can do with TikTok, but because it is not supported by our division I use FlipGrid in similar ways. If I used TikTok I would have to follow the students to see their work and I don’t want to get caught up knowing or seeing something that could cross professional boundaries. Despite the application or platform being used-Microsoft Teams, FlipGrid, and Padlet in my class- and the settings I can use to make students feel less exposed or vulnerable when sharing with the class, some are still hesitant to put themselves out there for fear of being judged or even worse bullied, and some students do not have access to a device. I feel like I do a good job adapting to get everyone engaged with the learning outcome without the entire focus being on the technology.

Like may other teachers I’m sure, I am continually deleting friend requests received by students when they discover my handles. I simply tell them at the start of the semester that I have enough friends and am too boring for them anyways so to not even bother. Something that is a little harder to resist is posting pictures to my personal platforms of my students or players I coach enjoying a particularly fun PE or basketball experience.

I do resist, however, and send the pictures I am so proud of through our school social media account liaison to post. I don’t take risks when it comes to student privacy and the time it takes to check to see if media releases were completed for each student is not a luxury I have.

Communication is another ethical concern I face daily. Full disclosure, in the past, as a teacher/coach, I would message the team captain using my personal device and ensure all communication goes through her and is ALWAYS about basketball. This year I started to use the Microsoft Teams platform (pictured above), which is of course supported by the division, for communicating with the team which has been very efficient and effective (and safe). When it comes to student learning outcomes there are plenty of tools that are supported by my division that teachers can use. We may just may have to spend extra time figuring out how to use the unfamiliar application. Just as I am starting to get the hang of Microsoft Teams and all its functions and capabilities our division is moving towards using Edsby next year. After reading through Christine’s project posts it seems like we will need quite a bit of teacher learning time to figure out how to navigate it to best suit ourselves, our students and their parents. I do believe the communication piece between the teacher and students/parents will be of most benefit. I am hoping it will be like the Microsoft Teams chat where I can select a student and send a quick, direct message.

Even with Twitter I think extra long before I post because I don’t know who will see my posts. I have written and deleted a number of posts, especially since after we had Boots come in and talk about teacher advocacy. It’s actually not that simple and I am not in a position to be fighting to keep my job. I am bound by the STF code of ethics and there are just too many eyes online for me take risks. It actually surprises me that there are professionals in our field who don’ t consider all that I mentioned above. They either aren’t aware of the risks, the ethical, moral, legal implications, or they simply don’t care. Yikes!

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3 thoughts on “Keep it Simple, Keep it Safe-Ethical considerations with tech and my students

  1. I enjoyed reading your post than my own! I have been guilty of communicating with a team using my personal device as well. As a male, I am super careful about even meeting with female students behind a closed door, let alone sending messages through my phone. I am very interested in using something like Teams to communicate with teams, especially with it being a division supported tool. I think that it is great that your school division has taken somewhat of a lead in posting on social media and they kind of filter what gets sent to them. While student achievement, curricular and extra-curricular, is important to be celebrated, they should be a reflection of the students of the schools and division. It seems to me that when the division promotes these kinds of things, they are celebrating students on a larger scale!

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  2. You raised an interesting point about continually deleting friend requests from students. This is something that I have to do often, even with my privacy settings on. I never thought to write about this, but it is definitely something that a teacher has to face often. Communication, which you mentioned, is also something that I am constantly stewing over. How will this person interpret this? Did I say this properly? Did I leave this open to interpretation? Etc. There is always something that I type, delete, retype, share with a colleague to look over, edit again, delete, start over, and so on. It’s a never-ending process I find like I imagine most teachers do.

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  3. Hi Cymone, great post! Thanks for sharing your personal stories; I have also communicated with families informally that now I would rethink my process. Learning about the ethical issues and legalities around communication platforms we use in schools has helped me. Currently, my posts on Twitter are revisited over and over again. I rarely post and am heading in the direction of removing my account. The articles that people have shared have not only changed my perspective in so many ways but also encouraged me to dive deeper into the SNSs platforms and the approved communication platforms our board used.

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