So I have been mulling over in my head for the past few weeks on whether it would be a good idea to start a class blog continuing on with my thoughts on Writing to Learn. This made me delve into the world of policies and procedures with my local school authority body.
At this point in time surprisingly it is not regulated beyond belief and is actually something that is sort of encouraged under their social media policy. Though this raised a few alarm bells for me as an amateur photographer and as current child care worker I am aware of varying laws and issues behind the posting photos on the internet. Most of them basically say that you are not allowed to identify children in a photo on school grounds.
As a general rule, photography is frowned upon on children that are in public that are a) not yours b) dressed in a school uniform which raises an interesting conundrum as a teacher. So some blogs blur the faces of children or hold signs over their faces so as they cannot be identified. Some schools already tackle the problem by getting permission from the parents to publish photos of some students on the school website. Going a step further some people that have class blogs have parents sign further individual permission notes for class blogs.
However this still runs into problems as some parents do not agree with having a class blog and will not give permission, this can be a bit of a pain as you need to crop these students out of the picture or creatively take the photos another way/angle. As the class teacher there may also be other issues with parents signing waivers such as parents divorcing, and also of students being wards of the state or pending court orders. It must also be pointed out that posting on a blog is publishing and sets the information or images wild on the internet where some people may want to use images etc. for evil and not good.
The benefits of blogging in the classroom seem to indicate that it may be a great thing for students to do. Promoting literacy, digital literacy, creativity, design, and promoting higher order thinking can all be seen as something that will help the students learn.
So improving student’s literacy, numeracy and promoting the cognitive abilities are all things to be aspired to if you are considering a class blog what should you do? Here are my key points to consider before starting a class blog.
- Check with your local school authority with their policies and procedures.
N.B. The local school authority normally holds copyright for all images done at a school.
- Speak to your principal – They are your first port of call.
- Get permission off parents.
- Blur faces or obscure faces if possible.
- Remember when something is published it can be used for both good and evil.
- If you are looking for a school safe blogging platform I recommend edublogs, though nothing really beats your own domain and web hosting.
- Promote collaborative learning and digital literacy.
- Use creative commons searches on image search engines as you may use some of their work (depending on permissions).
The final word: You are publishing something that is available for all and for all time. As soon as you press post it is out in the wild and there are some not nice people out in the world.