Sunday, November 28, 2010

What? We've Been Overreacting?

Scott McLeod's recent post in the Huffington Post, If We Were Really Serious About Educational Technology, offers some straight-forward, no-nonsense advice for those of us who are serious about moving technology forward, yet seem to come up with a lot of excuses. With 10 ideas to "get started," there was one specifically that hit home with me:
Understand the true risk of students encountering online predators and make policy accordingly instead of succumbing to scare tactics by the media, politicians, law enforcement, computer security vendors, and others;
I clicked on the "true risk" link and was taken to the Crimes Against Children Research Center website; specifically the Internet Crimes page:

"The publicity about online “predators” who prey on naive children using trickery and violence is largely inaccurate (formatting is mine).  Internet sex crimes involving adults and juveniles more often fit a model of statutory rape – adult offenders who meet, develop relationships with, and openly seduce underage teenagers -- than a model of forcible sexual assault or pedophilic child molesting."
Read all  >1500 words.

For me (and I believe most teachers like me), it's an unending debate that we rarely win, when trying to balance sharing students' work, images and videos while appeasing administrators' and parents' fears.

Last year, our school (and PTA) sponsored an 8-week "kid safe" program that cost each student $25.00 where someone from the program came in to class and facilitated a variety of scary scenarios for role-playing. I'm guessing it's in their best financial interest to keep people worried.

So, what if our administrators and parents and PTAs somehow caught wind of this "revelation" that we just might have been overreacting all this time? Would anything really change or are we so caught up in the "but if it saves even one child's life than it's worth it" mentality?

What are your thoughts?


Scott McLeod said...

Hi Lee,

We hit the "even if we save only one child" mentality in our tech leadership training we do with administrators and tech coordinators. Here's the basic idea:

Lee Kolbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee Kolbert said...

Thanks so much for those links. I've bookmarked them and will be sharing as appropriate. Your work always inspires me and makes me want to leap tall buildings in a single bound. With as many readers as you have; there's still not enough of us reading your work.

Thanks for your comment!

Unknown said...

My students must use the standard first name, last initial protocol when on-line for my class. When I ask them why I have them do that without fail every one says it's to prevent cyberstalking! Yet their facebook habits belie their true concerns. They are always surprised to hear the rule is more about avoiding a permanent digital footprint---then we google the football captain to see what he had to say as a 9th grader (back when my "rule" was just a "suggestion").

Unfortunate that no one explains digital footprint to the kids, just tries to scare them with exaggerated info that they ignore.

Tierra Dinkins said...

I do not think the way schools, parents, or the PTA will change the way they combat for internet safety even after knowing the facts. I believe they want to say that they are trying to save the children and that they have the best solutions. Thank you for sharing your opinion and that post.

IMC Guy said...

Schools live in fear. They are so afraid of the "What If" like you mentioned. It's very unfortunate because it truly hinders what could be done.

If a student stabbed themselves or another with a scissors, would all of the scissors be removed from the building? You know the answer.

Wm Chamberlain said...

As I have written several times before, I am much more worried about the way my students act on the net than I am about 'safety". Teaching my students to treat others with respect and dignity even if they do not know them or will never meet them is my goal.

Becky Reighard said...

The more I reflect upon this, the more I find that we only ever do parent presentations that focus on the "bad" of the Internet - cyberbullying and child predators. Why is this? Why are we not teaching parents the positives of the Internet, helping to develop adults' technology skills, and showing the parents all they can do to facilitate / enhance their children's learning?

I think it's going to be up to a mobilized group of tech educated teachers who need to lead the way by convincing districts of their importance and providing the presentations for parents.

Lee Kolbert said...

I think the reason we only do presentations to parents about the bad stuff is that it's not "we" who are doing those presentations, but companies that have a lot to gain by alarmed parents who will pay for their courses, products and advice.

Why aren't we teaching parents about the positives? Who are our customers? I say the students. I know we have to educate the parents in order to get to the students, however I struggle with the fact that parents need to grow up and take responsibility for their own learning and parenting. I also know that we cut off our own noses to spite our faces if we simply ignore the need for parental inservice, so I haven't reconciled this balance yet.

Thanks for your comment.

Wicked Decent Learning said...

Lee & Scott,

Thank you both for advocating for a sensible and realistic view of the internet safety issue. I'm on my district's newly formed Digital Citizenship Committee and we are working through these issues at present. I will share your resources from the studies and experts to help our district in our policies and procedures going forward.

We are currently moving further and further from a the filter being the primary tool for guide our students and putting the responsibility back on the educators.

Jeff Bailey
Wicked Decent Learning Podcast
& Teacher at Mountain Valley High School
Rumford, ME