D’Arcy and Darren, thank you for the comments. I still hope to compose a more complete post about this, and to share resources once I’ve put them together for the upcoming parent education session. In the meantime, here are a few bullet points I’ve picked up.
- Students should post using a pseudonym. Some of my favorite examples use first names, or first names and last initial, or even full names – with parent permission of course, but I actually think pseudonyms are the most safe. Another safe option is to use student numbers in elementary school, or student ID numbers in secondary school.
- Of course we should stay away from posting pictures of students, particularly without parent permission. However, if there is parent permission, seeing their pictures online (and pictures of their peers) can be very engaging and motivating for students. Also, they are doing this anyway at home, so school has to compete with that. Still, parent permission is a must in my book. Most teachers I know whose students are blogging have sent home a separate permission slip explicitly explaining blogging.
- There is no question that internet safety education must be a high priority, even a prerequisite, if we are going to ask our students to post online for school… it should be priority anyway, though, because they will post when outside of school regardless. It’s something like sex ed in this case; it’s a fact of life, and it’s better if we teach our students how to be safe than to pretend they don’t do it. But don’t carry this analogy too far; though I advocate blogging in schools, I’m not advocating sex in schools. ;)
Finally, it goes (almost) without saying that, yes, I agree, students of all ages should be allowed and encouraged to use the read/write web as part of their formal education.