What is our responsibility – cybersmart

The other day I read the following blog post http://www.julieacunningham.com/2011/09/i-believe-dont-do-internet-safety-part-2/

Initially I found myself agreeing with this post as I found the way it was written extremely persuasive. Then I started to think more about it; what did I actually agree with considering I was reading it from the perspective of
an educator.

I believe as educators it is our responsibility to provide structures that are supportive of students developing a sound understanding of what their place in the online world could look like and the flow on results.

As part of this I think it is important that we ensure that students are aware of the range of online communities that exist and the general expectations that exist within them. For example, to participate in the world of gaming is quite different to that of the blogging arena. In both areas people form relationships and perspectives on each other, regardless of the name attributed to them. The one thing that stands out more than anything else is that your responses and actions are more heavily weighted in each, rather than some of the more superficial aspects that can be initial weighty factors in the face to face world. Not to mention that sometimes those who are less likely to participate in a face to face situation feel freer to do so online, one possible reason is due to having the think time to do so. In both cases when someone starts to develop a following, that they are happy with, the pseudonym is their online identity and they build on it. So in essence they are being true to themselves. I see this more about fitting with the environment.

Being careful with regard to the amount of information shared is also important, this possibly exists more so in the privacy settings that one chooses to use in each community, but does need to go beyond that. In any community we need to think carefully about what we share. When it is in the written format, particularly on the web it can be there forever. Further to this understanding who your audience is can be a complete unknown on the web. You can choose to use twitter, join in with educational hashtags but what you are sharing can be viewed by anyone outside that sphere, if you have not locked your account down.

From an educative perspective I firmly believe that it is important to always remember that school, regardless of the pedagogy undertaken, provides a place where students can explore and learn in a place that should allow for growth within a context that is safe. From the face to face perspective not anyone can enter the school or the classroom, permission must be provided. If using blogs, games and other online tools within the school environment this
concept must also be considered and applied.

To support students developing a positive online presence it is vital that they are able to see good role modelling. Teachers need to be part of the process of building student understandings within the online world. Teachers need to be taking an active part in building their own online presence to enable them to fully understand the potential as well as the negatives. This does not mean we all need to be blogging, gaming or using twitter, rather it is important that we as educators use communities within the online environment that support our own learning and professional development.

On reflection of the blog post that initially got me thinking, I wonder whether young people will appreciate having blog posts, facebook comments and other information posted on the web accessible to a potential employer when applying for a job? This would certainly be different for each person. I wonder whether someone who is 40 years of age will be appreciative of their thoughts as a teenager, which may no longer represent their thoughts now, still being on display? How will employers, potential significant others and peers interpret this information that is freely available? Will they view it in the context of the time that it was placed there, I certainly hope so.

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