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Cristina Costa :: Blog :: The MiniLegend’s Blog Given Order for Closure

March 18, 2008

Actually I should have titled this post: The power of Ignorance!!!!!

Going through my emails today I bumped into this horrible piece of news: ‘ South Australian primary school teacher Al Upton was ordered to shut down an educational blogging initiative last week following a directive from the South Australian Department of Education. Al Upton is internationally recognised for his educational blogging efforts over the past 5 years, but his recent project known as The Minilegends has attracted concerns from parents generally relating to interactions between children and adults online.’

The adults online were fellow teachers Surprised... in case you haven’t had the time to read the entire article!!!!! For god sake!!!!! WHAT is wrong with People???????!!!!! 

This is to me a little bit drastic...to say the least. It is the schools' and universities' mission to educate and create responsible people: preparing them for their future jobs, which will require not only numeracy and literacy skills, but also high developed digital competences! This is the 21st Century needed skills. (UNESCO also agrees on that)

I agree that when dealing with kids we do need to pay attention to what we publish...maybe we should not use pictures of the students, but more importantly we should tell them why we are (or are not) doing that...We should not display personal information about them and it is our obligation as teachers to let them know the reason...

And even if we avoid the problem at school, it doesn't mean we are protecting the students from other environments and opportunities to access the web: cybercafes, friends' houses, older siblings' computers, etc. What we should be doing is to create mentoring programmes about digital literacy where these issues are raised (not only about using tools, but also about the implications of using them, and which the best ways to go about this are). And also projects which enable teachers to provide kids with the tools (= know-how) to browse the Internet with confidence, assurance and responsibility.

Penguin World, a Virtual world for young kids and teens run by Disney has more users than Second Life, which is the virtual environment for adults. Bebo, a social network site, has more than 10 Million users just in the UK. If Myspace were a country it would reportedly be the 11th more populated country on the face of the earth. I think we cannot ignore these facts.
Nor should we deny our students the benefits of the Internet. We should, however, guide them on how to use it safely to their own advantage.
I see many kids uploading a lot of rubbish on to the internet. What they don't know is that their future employers will be googling them before they hire them and that they might be denied a job for something they did/uploaded in the past, but which will still be available on the web....

Last week I went to UCLAN to talk about the power of blogs and wikis. It was a good conversation about the whats, whys and hows of these web tools. As usual the topics of safety and copyright were brought up. We then deepened our conversation about its usage and what is implies to open the classroom doors to a wider audience.
My main point is that it is urgent to educate people not only about netiquette, but also about digital presence. What we should submit online, what we should keep for ourselves, which pictures should be related with our digital identity and what is appropriate and what is not. In short, how do we develop and help our students create a reputable digital identity, which can benefit, not harm, their future jobs and careers.
Identity is no longer restricted to a passport or an ID card with our picture on t. It is about the reputation we bring upon ourselves in accordance to what others (decide to) think of us.

During the knowschool workshop, we worked with teachers who work with children, most of them very young. When Ramona showed them her cyber-kids’ blogs, the teachers’s first reaction was to ask if that wasn’t a problem for parents and school policy.  Really...this kind of question starts to upset me... a little bit... (education all of a sudden is a problem! Undecided )
What kind of problem should the parents have but to educate their children to tell right from wrong? And isn’t schools’ mission to complement students’ upbringing while preparing (educating) them to a competitive, highly technological based society and job market? The contribution of parents and schools should help individuals to grow responsible and aware of what the “real world” really is. In Ramona’s blogs no relevant information about the kids or their whereabouts is revealed. The comments are moderated by the teacher...although the parents were also invited to take up that responsibility, as a way of making them part of the kids’ school work. Weekly reports about the blogging activity are also sent to parents with an invite for them to visit their kids’ blogs and leave comments.
However this is only ONE positive example of the benefits of collaboration between parents, teachers and the school. I think many educational systems are scared of what the Internet might bring and prefer to lock things up, or close down, instead of addressing the issue.

What I would like to do: to run a programme with which I could engage educators (teachers, headmasters, Deans, policy makers, etc) and PARENTS to learn about the educational side of the web, about digital presence and how important it will be to establish one in the future. As educators it is our role to provide students with the knowledge and awareness about it. We should also count with the help and support of the parents.
It is about giving them the information and the choice: true knowledge and learning in a 'network society'!

Overview for Keywords: Al Upton, blogging, digital identity, parents, safe net

Blogs with Keywords: Al Upton, blogging, digital identity, parents, safe net

Posted by Cristina Costa


  1. Very interesting post.

    Regarding the last paragraph, I would have thought that was something that the Emerge community could help with. Josie certainly did a lot of wrk in this area. Teacher training is certainly a higher education remit. Maybe working with Becta, and the Education Subject Centre there would be some benefit we could frealise. What project might be working in this area? Awesome?


    George RobertsGeorge Roberts on Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 07:01 GMT # |

  2. There is definitely an area to explore. There is already work being conducted in the area of teacher training and mentoring....I am not so sure we are also offering a lot of sessions for parents, deans, etc.

     What shoked me most is the fact that many say...there is so much resistance in the school groud...teachers don't engage, educators are very resistant and relutacnt of going online....but then when they do, someone else comes along and orders things to close down.... It is just not fair!  

    I haven't been following Josie's work that closely. I will have to check her blog. Thanks for reminding me! ;-) 

    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 08:34 GMT # |

  3. This certainly falls within the BECTA remit. The new e-strategy (due May for consultation) will put users (parents, employer as well as learners) first. They are looking at providing a user entitlement (a right of access to information and learning sort of thing).

    This might be something to also speak to the web2rights people.

    I wonder if the community could produce some "guidelines" or briefings for these key audiences and run some events to raise awareness across the education sector. Partners from BECTA and subject centres would be good, BECTA might even add some funding. Happy to discuss ideas.

    Paul BaileyPaul Bailey on Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 13:21 GMT # |

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