Thinking about best practices

I was catching up on my Twitter reading this morning as I prepared some notes for my students about the evolution of human rights legislation in Canada. (Okay, I know the topic isn’t exciting, but if we do it quick we can keep them awake.)

As educators, we’re always told to warn our students to be cautious about what personal information we post on the web. We need to be careful about even giving away our real name, which is why most of us have handles or pseudonyms that we post under.

Yet the Twitter posts I was reading today and on other occasions give away an awful lot of information. Presenters at conferences tell when they’re getting on their plane. Basically they’re advertising that their home is empty and available to anyone who might want to take advantage of their situtation.

Other people will tell you what school they work at, and then they’ll complain about a conflict with the their principal, colleague or student.  If the offending party ever reads that tweet, I imagine the consequences will be quite unpleasant.

From still others I’ve learned the gender and approximate age of all their kids. That’s exactly the sort of information we warn our students not to let out because there are creepy people who will take advantage of that knowledege.

Administrators are often nervous to the point of paranoia about letting students online, and this is inspite of assurances by teachers that their kids will conduct themselves safely and properly while online. I can’t help but see the principals’ point of view, given some of the tweets I’ve seen educators post on Twitter lately.

As teachers, we’re giving away a LOT of personal information to an audience we don’t know. If we give away information that we probably shouldn’t, how much can we be trusted to keep our students’ information safe while online?

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One Response to Thinking about best practices

  1. Allan says:

    I agree that we as educators should set an example of professionalism and safety in this area. I came across this article the other day that talks about the psychological features of cyberspace that might help understand what happens when we’re online. http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html

    I could see an interesting discussion coming out of it with the right group of students.

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