Student Blogging – An Exercise in Vigilance

My grade level partner and I set up student blogs on Kidblog last year. It was fantastic, and especially since we are looping with the same class this year, we wanted to keep it going. We decided to make it public this year (with parent consent) so that we could more easily get feedback from other teachers and students.

We started off with the Animoto Homework project I wrote about in a previous post. Student homework this week has been to take pictures that represent what reading means to them and to make an Animoto video. They are in the process of posting the videos to their blog and are writing paragraphs that explain their ideas and picture choices.

It’s been a great project so far. The kids love the idea of having “iPad Homework” where they can create rather than more traditional types of homework. They are coming in each morning excited to show their pictures to their classmates, and I’ve been truly blown away by their reflections. They go a lot deeper than I ever expected.

This is the good part ๐Ÿ™‚ There have definitely been challenges, and I want to take the opportunity to advise on some of the things to look out for if you’ve never done a project like this.

We advised parents in the blog permission form that students and teachers would be expected to abide by a few agreements:

  • Student last names will never be published.
  • Our location or school name will never be published.
  • Contact information in any form, including email, will never be shared. The only means of contact will be through comments on the blog moderated by teachers.
  • We will always publish our best work.
  • We will maintain a respectful blogging environment, and content that intentionally embarrasses, is a put-down or bullies another student will not be tolerated.

This seems simple enough except we’re teaching 5th grade, and they were doing the majority of the work at home. We’ve discussed extensively in class the need for such protections such as no last names, etc. They all understand this intellectually, but there are so many spiderwebs that connect information on the internet that it’s easy to get lost.

For example, to use Animoto, students must create a login and password and have a separate Animoto account. Again, simple enough, but the account setup asks for first and last name. About 95% of the students created the accounts with this information without thinking. When I began reviewing their videos, I noticed that links that externally went to Animoto.com listed their full name next to their video. I immediately panicked, and we put all posts with these links to private. However, we need to now follow up and make sure ALL students have not listed their last name in their accounts.

Another student created an entire video in his PE uniform that displays our school name and mascot.

Another students used the generic name for the video that Animoto provides that actually names our specific city in Guatemala.

As students begin using online services, it’s becoming increasingly clear that account creation and management is going to become a huge, time-consuming venture. However, after seeing their excitement and their work, I think it’s worth it.

Links to their work will come soon…as soon as we have the security issues sorted:)

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4 thoughts on “Student Blogging – An Exercise in Vigilance

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