School Prefect Social Media Policy Workshop

Disclaimer: Although the sketch of this plan was drawn up in collaboration, I have not yet cleared the detail with my school and they may well indeed suggest amendments or another approach entirely.

In two days I will be leading a workshop for all school prefects to help kickstart a Social Media Policy for our independent co-educational boarding school. Social media usage within such an organisation is not easy to measure or monitor. Pastoral teams all have incidents to recant about what happened when it all went wrong, but I am prepared to be told that we grown ups are making a fuss about something that is not of great concern to young people right now. That’s not to say I wouldn’t put a policy in place, only that I’m open to hearing what I, and others in the teaching body, perceive as potentially harmful is actually over-egging the pudding. Mostly I want to listen.

So, here is the plan…

The prefects will be having dinner in five tables of five whilst we work. I’m going to do an intro, throw in a curve ball or two about my own experiences, break the ice – I’m new so none of them know me – and hopefully raise a smile or two that might ease everyone into the evening. Also, I’ll be instigating the Chatham House Rule (as far as it is applicable in these circumstances, i.e. within safeguarding) and asking the participants to share their thoughts and experiences, including an invitation to contact me or another teacher if there is something they would like to discuss in private. Then there will be a mixture of discussion points and post-it activities. Post-it’s will be stuck onto categorised (categories TBD) oversized post-its stuck on the walls around the room.

Discussion point 1

Share with your table the last three times you used social media.

Question 1

What four separate words best describe your experience of using social media? Write each word on a separate note. Pick two of your four to stick on the wall and discard the other two.

Discussion point 2

Do we need to provide social media guidance for our pupils?

Question 2

Have you ever, or someone you know well, had a negative experience using social media?

To answer yes, use a yellow note and write one emotion you felt at that time on the note. To answer no, use a pink note, and use one of these words to explain why you think you haven’t: abstain, careful, private, carefree, or other.

Discussion point 3

Accidentally or deliberately, have you, or someone you know well, ever used technology to cause someone to get upset or feel bad about themselves?

Question 3

Close your eyes. Think back to your first day in school and how you’ve changed and how you’ve stayed the same. What advice would you give your younger self? [open eyes]

If you could, would you let your 11 or 13 year old self know anything about how to behave online? Using as few words as possible, write this advice down on a note. One point per note. As many notes as you want.

Discussion point 4

What would you, as a senior pupil and a prefect, say to a younger pupil who approached you because they are worried about something that has happened online?

Question 4

What do we need to do to support you in situations of this sort that you might face this academic year? One point per note but as many notes as you want from your table.

Discussion point 5

Do we need to stop skirting around the issue and talking to you and drafting policies and simply get a bit tough-love about all this and start enforcing some hard line rules?

Question 5

Having spent the evening thinking and reflecting on the matter, where do we go from here?

Thank yous and goodbyes.


 

All post-it notes to be collected and assembled into a debrief document to be discussed by a pastoral development committee.

Hopefully this should fill the sixty to ninety minute window set aside for this event. Please let me know if you see a missed opportunity or I’m pitching something wrong from what you’ve read?

 

 

(How) should we tackle pornography in schools

Disclaimer: all opinion in this post, and indeed all my posts, is nothing whatsoever to do with my employers, past, present or future. It is, however, safe to read at work (SFW).

Source: http://bit.ly/1tP8U19

Hardcore pornography is readily accessible by anyone with an internet device. Pornography has been one of the catalysts of the Internet and web content. Check out this infographic published last year showing USA stats on porn. And a more balanced examination of such stats from the BBC, as well as this article exploring research about the harm that porn can do, which includes an analogy of porn to alcohol, saying that for some it’s a problem and for others it’s a pleasure. [NB: schools do educate about alcohol]

So, should we be doing anything in school about pornography? And, if so, what should we be doing? I have been discussing this question with colleagues and the answer is not clear. It’s not an easy subject to talk about. Imagine the potential outrage as students hurry home to discover what all the fuss was about? Those not exposed to such material may venture to satisfy their curiosity and the school will ultimately have led them there. Unacceptable, right? So what might we be able to do about this without leading our cohorts to the content we are advising them to avoid?

Should we do anything at all? This New Statesman article argues that there are ten more important sex education issues to deal with than porn:

  1. Where and how to get contraception
  2. How to use that contraception
  3. Consent
  4. Basic anatomy
  5. How to put it in
  6. ‘When a man and a woman don’t love each other very much…’
  7. Sex positions
  8. Orgasms
  9. The Morning After Pill and Abortion
  10. The sexual double standard

You may agree with them or not. Although it is just an opinion piece, it is prioritising the importance of practical facts, sort of. A young persons (mans? womans? boys? girls? childrens?) relationship to pornography is a complex one, and there will undoubtedly be many people better qualified and experienced than me to explain this in more detail. I find that it is similar to the body image issue which I often feel lacks sufficient complexity when presented to young people because it never explains how you – and I and them and us and we – are in the game. The impact of media-distorted body image (both self and others) is so entwined in our thoughts that effectively disentangling ourselves from admiring the beautiful (desired?), and superficially judging the occupant as an object, is much harder than it seems. Brangelina are the perfect couple, aren’t they? In an attempt to do this without doing it, I teach a unit of work called ‘Digital Media Decoding’ whereby the pupils use graphics packages to alter photographs. But, might it be necessary for schools simply not to get involved? Maybe this stuff is so wrapped up in the double binds of life that each of us must unravel these for ourselves; is it not this that defines who we are? Bob Dylan, discussing songwriting, says:

First of all, there’s two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there’s good thoughts and evil thoughts. Both come through your mind. Some people are more loaded down with one than another. Nevertheless, they come through. Source: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/05/21/bob-dylan-songwriters-on-songwriting-interview/

So, how can we dictate, or even determine, how thoughts (and the potentially distorted thoughts that an individual may have after subjecting themselves to pornographic material) might manifest in the intimate relationships our children are having or will have? Will these thoughts change actions? Will the absence of hands gently finding each other in streamed online media actually mean our young people will not work this tenderness out for themselves? Do we really think that they will not understand that our/their media-distorted expectations are irrelevant, and that the physical embodiment of connection between two people is so much more valuable, more beautiful, than what they watched online? Will there be a Generation XXX?

Well I’m not certain about what to do, but my research on the matter led me to this video which is the best thing I have seen so far (NB: if you know of anything suitable, please get in touch?). The video is a TEDx talk by Ran Gavrieli from Israel: ‘Why I stopped watching porn’. I recommend you watch this young(ish) man explain his experience. He is earnest and humorous and sensitive.

 

 

Tablets 4 Schools 2013 Twitter notes on Storify

I didn’t attend this event. I was lucky enough to receive a personal invite but had already committed myself to another tablet event (much smaller scale) with a company called Jigsaw24 who have some innovative ideas on how to roll out iPad in schools. On the train home I read through the tweets and found Tony Parkin had impartially documented the gist of what was presented. I was going to write up the notes (they’re in my notebook) but time is against me, so here is a storify of the key tweets. All are worth reading from beginning to end, but it is long so I’ll say goodbye here… comments at the bottom should you feel the need!

PS: remember to click *Read next page* link at bottom of storify embed.

 

ICT Innovator AUPs for teachers

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bstabler/770416963/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bstabler/770416963/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Acceptable Use Policies are a necessary and important document – contract – for teachers in any school because it is imperative that we are protected from the potential danger working online can bring. Following an intense scrutiny of safeguarding and child protection at our school, we published a strict and comprehensive Staff ICT AUP. For example, staff should not connect with any pupil on facebook until one year after they are of school leaving age, and only then with caution as through siblings and friends it can connect you to current pupils.

However, two years on we have included in the new ICT strategy a review of this policy to incorporate a section for innovative teachers who want to employ a new service without seeking formal permission via the various committees in place to oversee the use of ICT.  For example, I have been managing Sixth Form coursework using a project management tool called trello, logged into through pupils and teachers Google Apps for Education accounts. Or, should a teacher want to investigate and explore the use of edmodo in teaching and learning, they need to go about this in a risk-aware and cautious way without their enthusiasm being thwarted by bureaucracy. Equally you do not want to let every teacher engage pupils via services, that facilitate private and untraceable communique, without being aware of the risks involved. The common sense approach is simply not enough in this day and age.

There is extensive discussion of the issues involved and some research collated here on Scott McLeod’s blog, which also demonstrates that this issue is not only a concern for my school. Check out the links on Employee AUPs for material specifically relevant to this area.

We are proposing a clause to the ICT AUP whereby a teacher can sign up to be an ICT innovator and thereafter explore the use of such services with only an email being sent to a designated person. It might be that usernames and passwords, for the accounts being used, need to be shared which will allow monitoring of some sort. This will all be discussed in detail with the school’s child protection officer and the relevant committees. The priority is to enable teachers and pupils to exploit the innovations that specific web services can provide in a protected and safe way that does not impede the momentum of the creative spark that initiates the process. Our core purpose is to empower users who want to use technology to enrich teaching and learning.

If you have any thoughts about this, please do comment. Once the AUP is written, I will share it on a new blogpost.

Giphy spices up staff communique

Following James Michie’s persistence on the distracting quality of giphy, I opened up the site and found myself bouncing around animated images for a while.

tweet

Some of them are awesome. And because I thought so, others might agree and included one in my weekly ICT Tip newsletter.

dog gif

The newsletter email was sent at 07:00. By 09:00, three people had said how much they liked the animated pooch! And one person said how much they liked the ICT tip. Go figure.

NB: interestingly, the person who liked the tip is an experienced user. Whereas the newsletter is aimed at beginner users, it seems it is helpful to untrained (self-taught – isn’t that pretty much all of us??) users too. Also, he said that he liked the fact the tip was only one thing at a time because it is easier to remember and bring into your skill-set.

However, the point is that a little bit of fun goes a long, long way.