Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Educating "our students" outside of the classroom

When it comes to learning about the intricate facets of 21st century technology, I was very excited coming into this week’s topic on privacy concerns.  One of the main reasons why I was so anxious to learn more about this topic was because I need to know how I can protect my students when implementing Web 2.0 tools into my classroom curriculum.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to ignore the heightened awareness surrounding cyberbullying amongst other risks that come with using the Internet.  In particular, the use of blogs and social networking sites can draw some attention for concern.  I have to agree with Schrum and Levin’s “educative and common-sense approach to the legal, safety, and ethical issues that school leaders and teachers need to consider when using technology and the Internet for teaching and learning” (2009).  Teachers need to model and discuss these “common-sense” practices for their students.  It would be foolish for teachers not to educate their students about privacy concerns when using technology, when in reality; students are using the Internet far more often outside of the classroom in comparison to its usage inside the classroom.  This form of education will allow students to directly connect what they are learning in school with the activities they participate in leisurely outside of school.  I think it comes naturally for teachers to actively model appropriate behavior and consistently enforce consequences when it comes to our students.  However, it is important not to forget some of our most influential and significant students outside of the classroom: our students’ parents. 

Many parents may be extremely weary of the use of technology in their child’s education.  They may feel as though the Internet is out there for the entire world to see and there is little monitoring that can be done to protect their son or daughter.  Some may find it unnecessary to use such tools as blogs, social networks, and wikis to supplement learning.  In their eyes their “old school” education provided them with all the necessary tools and knowledge for success.  I feel one of the most effective ways to suppress parent apprehension towards Web 2.0 tools comes at no surprise to many teachers—it begins with education.  A parent’s main concern, paralleling a teacher’s number one concern, is protecting the safety of their son or daughter.  We cannot blame parents for their worry.  However, if we want to be able to explore how big of an impact technology can play in our classroom then we need to educate our parents about how and why we are going to do this.  Many parents simply just aren’t aware.  It is the teacher’s obligation to educate parents through models of how technology can allow their child’s education to go beyond the classroom walls.  We need to present the material in a way that highlight’s the technologies’ ability to guide students to use their critical thinking skills.  Most importantly, we need to reassure parents that their child’s privacy is protected through demonstrating the ways in which the classroom teacher can monitor student work.  There must be a sense of trust established between the parents and the teacher.  I thought this YouTube video titled “No Parent Left Behind” was a great way to introduce parents to 21st century learning and its implications for today’s classroom.  A classroom teacher created the video.  It even directs parents to view the “Did You Know?” video.

We too, should look into providing parent workshops by reaching out to our school administrators or PTA.  These presentations can also shed light on school policies when it comes to inappropriate behavior when using technology.  Parents need to see that there would be consequences not only in the classroom but also, within the school at large.  Parents can also engage in a social networking site called “Digi Parent” where parents can collaborate with each other on learning about 21st century tools.  Participating in this type of social network would also give parents a taste of their son or daughter’s world.  


  1. Hi!

    Parents are definitely a very important part in helping students stay safe while exploring new technology. Students need guidance and direction. Even if teachers set boundaries and inform students about possible consequences, parental reinforcement and general knowledge is essential in maintaining privacy and protection. I, too, felt anxious about using technology because of the risks to students privacy; however, knowing what steps to take to minimize these risks allow students to gain the benefits of technology use.

  2. Christina,

    You are touching on an idea that I would argue to be the biggest underlying issue with incorporating various forms of classroom technology and networks. The technology gap between students and parents is great. Parents are uncomfortable with the new tools being used in the classroom and feel they are putting their children at risk by providing access to the world wide web and social networks as a education tool. I really like the video and some of the recommendations you describe to bring the non technical generation up to speed with the privacy, limitations, and awareness of this technology use. The more support that exists from parents, the more education can be enabled at home. This all helps the students by developing further support resources.

  3. You bring up a great point about how it's important to educate parents about the technology that their children most likely are using whether in school or on their own time. I think that it would be so beneficial to educate not only the students about why it's important to practice caution when it comes to using the internet. By doing that we may be able to create a space for parents and their children to have discussions about the internet, which may help cement that information into students minds. Plus if parents have a greater understanding of the privacy that will come with the use of these online tools in the classroom they may be more willing to allow their children to use the technology.
    I really like your idea of using the youtube video as part of a presentation or workshop for parents. It's a great way to get parents involved in school, and it would be beneficial for them because who can't use more knowledge about how to be safe online. Plus it may be a bit easier to get people to come to this kind of workshop because there is a lot in it for them as well as their children.

  4. Hi Christina,

    I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to visit your blog yet- it’s really great! I love the theme and I’m sure your students would too.

    I agree with everything that you and everyone else has said concerning the issue of privacy on the Internet. It is definitely true that it is tough to keep students safe when oftentimes their parents and guardians have no idea how to do so themselves. I love the video because it would be really great to show parents, and to even incorporate into workshops about student safety. I was just thinking how awesome it would be to have a few meetings with parents where they developed action plans for how to protect their kids at home. Imagine if not only you, but all of your friends and peers were being taught the same information about safety at home, and being blocked from the same websites. I think the parents have the power to create a whole Internet community rooted in safety!

    Hopefully I’ll see you around soon!