Why I think Blogs Should be Public

I have had a number of educators have asked me in the past about my privacy guidelines for my class blog. Recently, an educator contacted me for advice when their principal would not allow their class blog to be public. That is, the principal would not allow blogging unless the blog was completely password protected.

I disagree with this for a number of reasons.

I believe in educating, not blocking.

Cyber safety is an extremely important issue and one that I have blogged about in the past. There are many ways to teach about cyber safety and in my own experience, blogging has been the ideal avenue to teach my young students about this topic and appropriate online behaviours.

Through blogging, all my students know not to publish their surnames or reveal other personal information about themselves including passwords. They also know that what they publish on the internet is forever and cannot be taken back. My students are becoming aware of correct netiquette.

http://www.wpclipart.com/tools/locks/lock.png.html

If my blog was password protected, these sorts of guidelines would not be as relevant and would be more difficult to teach.

It is important that we give our students experience using online technologies in a supervised environment. Technology is not going away. If we do not teach the children how to use technologies like blogs safely and appropriately then we are doing them a disservice.

It my opinion, it is more harmful to “protect” students through a closed blog than it is to open their eyes to the real world of online technologies through open blogs.

To me, having a closed blog feels like “pretending to use technology” and the full benefits of blogging cannot experienced.

One of the most rewarding experiences my class has had through blogging has been making connections with classes all around the world. The learning that has taken place through these experiences has been priceless and a closed blog would not have allowed for this. Read about just some of these collaborative experiences here here and here.

What do you think about the issue of public/private blogs?

Cyber Safety and Young Students

Teaching cyber safety is an important aspect of all technology teaching. With my Grade Two students, I try to discuss aspects of cyber safety while using the Internet on the interactive whiteboard (IWB) and I have found blogging to be an excellent avenue to teach young students about appropriate online behaviours.

All my students know not to publish their surnames or reveal other personal information about themselves including passwords. They also know that what they publish on the Internet is forever and can’t be taken back. My students are becoming aware of correct netiquette.

From the discussions I’ve had with my students who are 7 and 8 years old, it seems that they are only beginning to explore the Internet independently at home. I therefore feel that it would be a opportune time to teach my students more about cyber safety before they become involved in using technology such as social networking, instant messaging and mobile phones more broadly.

I have decided to use some of the fantstic online resources on the IWB with my students to teach some lessons specifically targetting cyber safety issues. I thought a good way to open these lessons would be to ask the students exactly what they do on the Internet and how much access to the Internet do they have.

Some sites that include videos, games, professional development, activities and lessons about cyber safety issues include

While it is important to provide education to the students about cyber safety it is also important to provide parent education and I will look at doing this through a parent newsletter. I may even have the students create or contribute to the newsletter as I find student participation usually encourages more parent interest.

This poster is from the Cybersmart website and has some good tips which could be taught to students and displayed in your classroom.

cyber poster

Do you know any other good websites for teaching about cyber safety? How do you approach cyber safety in the classroom?