ETEC635 Paper


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ETEC635 Paper

  1. 1. Spring 2011 "Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Peggy Villars Abadie, Alicia Drake, Paula Naugle, Mona Wexler Southeastern Louisiana University – ETEC 635 Spring 2011Abstract - This project embarks on addressing the legal issues around various digital tools. Inschools across the country, administrators have taken a very old action against this very new setof tools. The problem is that the old action plan “No Toys at School” only works if the tools arenot tools and are in fact toys. In these cases we will entertain the reality that these are tools andthe impracticality of adopting the banning of them rather than undertaking to find out how theycan and should be embraced to drive student outcomes to new heights, is foolhardy.Introduction - The video opens with a scene that might play out and probably does inclassrooms across the nation. In the scene the speakers are students, but as viewers will learnthey could be faculty members or even a blend of students and faculty members. The scenesentertained in the video cover devices banned in schools, banned websites for students, bannedwebsites for faculty members, and digital footprint issues. In the making of the video there werea number of considerations around legal issues tied to multi-media production.Legal Concerns in Production - Viewers will note the use of photographic images. Many ofthe images used in this production come from Creative Commons which provided us with accessto some images free of copyright infringement issues by choosing from the “Share Alike”inventory. Other images were made available with the appropriate citations so as to prevent acopyright infringement issue. Concerns over the use of student images were also avoided in theproduction in as much as no student images were included. If they had been, then we would"Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 1
  2. 2. Spring 2011have been obligated to consider the need for parental consent forms to include identifiableimages of minors. This production additionally avoided the legal concerns around use ofcopyrighted music and/or video clips in as much as all the material included herein is originalmedia produced by the members of this team. If any copyrighted materials would have beenemployed the team would have been obligated to provide appropriate citations for the materialchosen. Additional concerns around the use of copyrighted material would have been connectedto the breadth of distribution for the project. Sufficiently distributed projects could conceivablyhave owed the originators of the media royalties for their use. Again, these were not concerns inthis project owing to the decision to use only original material.Banned Devices - In a conversation overheard in the Superintendent‟s conference room, the ITDirector was appealing to the principals to reconsider their rule against cell phones in schools.The district in the scenario is like most districts in that a blanket rule against cell phones wasadopted not because anyone ever thought about whether or not it was a reasonable idea, butbecause pagers were banned and cell phones took the place of pagers. This conversation willaddress the silliness behind this approach. It is both shortsighted and frankly counterproductiveto maximizing educational outcomes for the twenty-first century learner. Frankly, when theconversation turns to what we want in student outcomes, the traits most commonly mentionedare creative, collaborative, & evaluative. Yet, we routinely operate under the auspices of rulesderived in anything but these ways. This project discusses in as humorous a way as possible therisks we as educators and those who support them take when we make snap decisions.Arguably, the issues around how these devices are handled in educational settings are one of themost compelling conversations NOT being held in districts today. Students in classrooms"Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 2
  3. 3. Spring 2011since the late 1990s are inexorably connected to handheld electronics that grow in power andcapability by the day. Yet, in districts across the nations the ostrich approach (head in the sand)to addressing them is held to as if life itself depends on the grip. That in and of itself ismotivation enough to cause reasonable people to let go and reconsider. Add the element ofpossibility that enters when the devices are not only allowed, but embraced and employed. Nowclassrooms take on a panorama of options around how the students being actively engaged withthe content will alter the experience of the learner. Clearly these are conversations we asthinking people must be willing to entertain.Blocked Websites/Students - What should we do as educators: ban or teach responsible use?Teachers all over the United States are asking this. Should we be preparing students to be 21stcentury citizens by showing them how to use the internet responsibly? Students are not allowedto access many of the social networking sites, game sites and informational websites that maycontain certain terms. Often it is one arbitrary word that decided whether the information on thewebsite is available for school viewing or not. Should one word be the deciding factor or oneindividual have the decision making power over everyone? These children will eventually haveto navigate the thorny issues of online websites and social networking on their own. Wouldn‟t itbe better to teach them using the guidance of educators?School systems today contain many different religions, ethnic, and cultural groups, all of whomhave somewhat differing standards of acceptable behavior. Parents are not afraid to speak upabout what they deem offensive and, in our litigious society, to sue schools and teachers overconflicts. Some of the school district policies are created to avoid such litigation. Additionally,the federal government has laws that require schools to educate students about online safety and"Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 3
  4. 4. Spring 2011to install filtering software. The filtering software choice and the settings for the filters arechosen by the Local Education Authorities, which means each district must decide howrestrictive it wants to be. Teachers and administrators have to decide who can access what,which requires careful thought and consideration.Blocked Websites/Faculty - As you have read and experienced for yourself, many schools filtersocial networking sites. Are Internet filters appropriate for children and adults? Why are theyfiltering the adults that work for them?There are hundreds of inappropriate sites surfacing every day and it is a losing battle to try tocreate a database of every bad web site on the Internet. We can use keyword-based filters, buteven these do not block all improper web sites. These also frequently block valid educationalweb content, throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Do filters overstep theirbounds? Is our technology staff responsive enough to the needs of classroom teachers?When teachers communicate they are bound to a code of ethics built around the principles of theteaching profession. But what about our ethics? Are we not allowed to instill our ethics in ourstudents? Are ethics only during school hours or should they apply 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek? Who determines ethical behavior online? If a teacher blogs and protects the students‟identities anonymously is the teacher protected?As teachers, we have our own code of ethics. What have we done to become teachers? Howlong have we worked to get where we are today? Are our employers telling us our ethics are notgood enough for our students?Some officials say they support the guidelines, but that the policy is over reaching and intrusive.Lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of this policy because it violates the teachers‟ First"Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 4
  5. 5. Spring 2011Amendment rights. Do public employees have the same right as any taxpayer to express theirfeelings about the school district, school, or students.This is a losing strategy that prevents educators from accessing potentially powerful educationalmaterial and damages employee morale. Nice job, administrators!Digital Footprints - Do you love walking in the sand with the sound of the waves breaking onthe shoreline? That is one of my favorite activities, it relieves my stress and I smile as thefootprints I leave behind are washed away by the approaching waves.Have you ever been in a situation where you have worried about the footprints you are leavingbehind such as when you cross a freshly raked Zen garden or walking in wet cement? Somefootprints are a little more permanent then others. Think about your digital footprint.I always hear a little voice saying to me as I go to hit the submit button – what goes online staysonline. I tell my 4th graders to think about these questions before they post anything on line1. Would you want your mom or grandmother to see this?2. Would you want your future college recruiter to see this?3. Would you want your future employer to see this?When I first started teaching my students about digital footprints, they didn‟t understand howpostings they do today can impact their future. I cited examples of students who years laterrealized that they had been denied entrance to the college of their choice or weren‟t hired for thatperfect job because of photos they uploaded the FaceBook.So consider this – What does your digital footprint look like?"Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 5
  6. 6. Spring 2011Conclusion - It is clear that digital tools are ripe for conversation around how to handle them inthe educational settings. This project is intended to open a dialogue among stakeholders aroundthe unreasonableness of adopting a „ban them‟ stance. Rather, reasonable minds are encouragedto consider the very real possibility that if these tools are embraced and employed, they have thepotential to drive student learning to heights never fully imagined by classroom teachers intraditional settings. The producers encourage viewers to engage in lively conversations aroundthese topics for their districts, schools, classrooms, or children."Banning or Educating: Why doesnt the benefit of education outweigh the risk of litigation?" Page 6