1. It is always the ‘either/or’ issue that bothers me. Some want to be online and open and some prefer to be more private (just like the adults.) How do we accomodate both diverse beliefs? Should we requires students to have online identities or should they choose? Are they capable of making that choice themselves and if so, at what age?

    I realize that I make that choice for them in a small way every day I stream live from my classroom, upload a video or a picture, or even have them share their blog posts. I have been challenged several times by people interested in privacy, but the ones I pay attention to are the ones that ask me if I have made it clear to the students they should have that choice. I haven’t, and I am not sure I want to. I am afraid they will say they don’t want to be streamed….

    • George

      Great point William…What I would say that no one should force kids to be online but there is no “either/or” in the notion of teaching them to be appropriate. I think that is something that we have to continuously address. Thanks for your comment 🙂

    • As someone who has argued with William on this, I feel like I should clarify a both/and perspective.

      I want students to value the right to privacy, but I want them to be encouraged to go public and be authentic there. We need to create spaces of permission where they have gates instead of walls and they can freely decide how public or private they want to be.

      Anonymity isn’t even a wall. It’s a mask. Being anonymous is essentially saying, “I want to be someone other than myself.” Often, this is borne out of fear or a desire to do what you want with no consequences. Privacy is different. So is solitude. Those are the spaces where you say, “I have nothing to hide. But I just want to be alone for awhile, outside the ultra-public lens of social media.”

  2. Great post George! The appropriateness of our students’ digital ways must be core to what we do in our schools. We cannot simply ban technology usage. We must teach and model appropriate use, focusing on ehtical citizenship within a digital age.

  3. George, in my opinion, an online profile or digital footprint is inevitable and unavoidable for many people. In Australia, teens enthusiastically share their lives online. I agree with Chris. As educators, we can offer guidance to create a positive digital footprint. They won’t always get it right, but then, we’re all human! We sometimes don’t portray the best side of ourselves in face-to-face communication either. Increasingly, the online world IS the real world, so maybe we need to stop pretending that they are separate. Thanks for your post. The stats are really interesting.

  4. Josh Allen

    The online world is not the real world. The real world includes the increasingly social networking that is done, but it also includes long walks through a forest, watching thunderstorms roll in, and a variety of other non-techie activities. We shouldn’t FORCE kids to be online, but we should appropriately model it as a way to share the great things they are doing. I completely agree with John’s points about making gates for kids to choose to walk through.

  5. Marianne Rogers

    I tend to agree with Josh. We need to continue to reflect the real world(s) and have our students act to create positive digital footprints, positive environmental footprints & positive social footprints as well. There is life outside the techno-bubble.
    Perhaps the larger question is: How can we ensure that are students listen to the call fom all the opportunities competing for their time and focus? How can we have them consider “What should be done?” “How is his action shaping who I am and how others see me?”. Firstly, we need them to hear us.
    We need to ensure that our “voice” is relevant for it to be heard among the cacophonous temptations. This is about modeling what can be done as well as suggesting what should be done. We need to create spaces where students are engaged, connected and receive positive, meaningful feedback while holding true to our values. They are living in the present. Who is keeping an eye on how it is shaping their/our future? This is a tall order with such rapid responses from so many possible spaces.
    I also agree with Kate. Our students are human and crave human interactions that reinforce their needs and wants.. Do we create communities to which they want to belong?
    In the debate on whether we should be anonymous or not, it seems to me that our students are seeking ways to be recognized and heard. Anonymity just doesn’t cut it. We have to continue addressing “appropriate” even though that measure is rapidly changing. It is about genuine voice and providing opportunities carefully crafted to engage and reward. Making the choice to have our students open new doors is a part of sound pedagogy. When students are choosing which doors they step through, perhaps we start anonymously and then make ourselves known in the ones that invite us to be a part of something real – a community. If our students are only seeing “The Lady or The Tiger”, it is appropriate to have them choose the other doors that can open up for them – anonymous in some and judging what is appropriate in all.

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