Moral, Legal and Ethical issues when Integrating (social) Media in the Classroom.

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You know that moment, the moment right before you hit “send” on a Media post of some sort? Where you pause – scanning to make sure your message is clear, what you have communicated is appropriate for the medium and the context? That moment, of extra consideration? Well now I have more on my mind in that moment.

When teaching students digital citizenship I won’t lie I spend most of my time discussing digital Etiquette, Access, Communication, Literacy and Safety & Security.

Digital Law seems to be one of the areas I avoid – admittedly with the mindset that it’s too complicated for my students to understand.

However, after tonight’s class it seems that the reality is that perhaps because there is so much complexity and nuance to moral, ethical and legal issues in our digital participation that I myself am not familiar enough to feel I can teach it competently.

To begin with, the legal issues that are to be considered when posting and creating online feel for some reason less clear and understandable to me than those that guide our everyday lives. Which I know is a silly thought – but as someone who grew up in the dawning age of the internet – I feel as a child I participated in much more of an online free-for-all.

One resource that I located that as a teacher that has made this topic a whole lot more understandable it the Fair Dealing Canada Website.

Fair dealing is for everyone.  You probably make use of fair dealing every day without even realizing it, whether emailing a news article to a friend, using a clip from a song, using a copyrighted image on social media, or quoting passages from a book when writing an essay.  Activities such as these are not considered to be copyright infringement – in fact, the ability for users to make copies for specific purposes is an integral part of the Canadian Copyright Act.

Canadian Association of Research Libraries 

If there is anything I have learned from this class it’s that it’s okay to not know all of the answers when navigating the digital world, so long as you possess the skills to go looking for them. So while Fair Dealing seems to make copyright law pretty straightforward in your everyday life – I feel more wary as a professional.

One of the most helpful tools in understanding copyright and the guidelines therein (in regards to teaching) was suggested by my classmate Curtis.

During our class discussion tonight, he shared with us CMEC’s Fair Dealing Decision Tool.

This is an awesome reference point to help teachers air on the side of caution when selecting materials and information to share digitally, especially now as we all attempt to navigate the tricky and somewhat unknown world of Remote Teaching.

I plan to use this tool to help guide the choices I make when it comes to teaching the remainder of the year at a distance. That being said, I think as long as you have a solid understanding of both Fair Dealing in Canada, and the guidelines in the attached picture, you can come to an informed decision on your own accord, with your purpose and intent in mind.

Now onto the scarier part. Moral, and Ethical issues surrounding teaching in the digital age.

I really enjoyed the reading my classmate Krysta shared from Henderson, Auld & Johnson, where they discuss ethical issues through the lenses of consent (concerning a students public and private data) confidentiality (in regards to our ability to ensure a student and their work is shared with appropriate audiences), and boundaries (teaching students to conduct an online presence that is responsible). Krysta suggests that when issues in these areas arise, teachers fall back not only on their professional judgement – but also on the advise and opinions of other professions to navigate these tricky waters.

Krysta’s last point is what caught my attention (the pause and rewind to hear it again kind of attention) where she said, the most effective strategy for dealing with issues that are moral and ethical in nature is having a proactive approach to begin with. Just as I wrote about the importance of school’s developing a proactive Digital Citizenship Education Policy rather than dealing with issues on a case by case basis – dealing with issues that concern a students consent (and assent) and right to privacy are best approached from a solid foundation of existing good citizenship skills. Phew.

To further this point in Curtis’ video he mention’s the work of Jennifer Casa-Todd specifically her thoughts on the prevalent idea that I have heard come from many parents and teachers alike: that social media is bad.

I agree with Curtis’ assertion that not only is social media like all things, a mix of good and bad with a whole lot of grey area.

What we need are students to be allowed the freedom to become leaders, and positive role models in online spaces. Something we would be able to do, if we do not allow students to utilize social media to share and create within the classroom in order to navigate potential moral issues under the guidance of a teacher.

I am not going to lie, I still feel there are elements of digital citizenship that I feel like I need to grasp better and understand more thoroughly before I “press send” (too corny??) on that content with my students, but as our class comes to an end I am feeling reassured that I know how to continue pursuing this knowledge in the genuine belief that tackling the grey areas will benefit our students as they grow.

What Moral, Legal, and Ethical issues surrounding digital citizenship concern you?


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