The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER SIX – Openness and Sharing in Schools is not fair to our students.

Leading up to tonight’s debate I was mostly curious about how each team would interpret the topic. “Openness and Sharing” is quite the vague statement and I was anticipating that the debate teams would mostly discuss sharing when it comes to media, such as pictures or videos of students themselves and possibly their work.

Each of the teams went much more in depth than that, leading us into questions of whether or not sharing, openness and open education can lead to an increase in equitable outcomes for students or exploitation of our students, including the most vulnerable ones. So – it got deep, as usual with this group.

I will start off my sharing that both at the beginning of the debate and at the end of it I still disagreed with the debate statement. Beyond their intensely impressive showmanship in their video (who doesn’t love a good rant??) Sherrie and Dean spoke about everything from sharing student work online to celebrate student success, to educators use of social media in the classroom, and even dipped into an argument in favour of Open Education by bringing in expert Dr. Verena Roberts. (I watched their interview with her and it was fantastic – I suggest checking it out when you have an extra 44 minutes).

It was Sherrie’s opening line in her rant that had me convinced:

Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our students?  Or is it unfair not to take the opportunity to teach students about positive online behaviours.  Schools are the best place for students to learn how to create and maintain a positive identity online.  

Sherrie Meredith, 2020

So rather than discuss the back and forth of the debate where my position did not change, I would like to discuss the points the opposing team brought up that truly caused me to pause and reflect.

Melinda and Altan had me thinking about:

  • If the media release documents are overwhelming or confusing to parent’s whose first language is is English – what do we have in place to ensure parents who may not be English readers understand what they are agreeing to?

This was interesting to consider when you heard their arguments in the context of the work that both Melinda and Altan do – and the families that they serve. Many others in class also expressed that as parents AND graduate students in an EdTech class they still aren’t sure what type of sharing they are agreeing to when they sign their forms at the beginning of the year. It got me really considering what that means for the partnerships we all describe between school and home in teaching Digital Citizenship. It had me considering other options for engaging parents in learning about the elements of DC for themselves and how I can support them beyond sending home a legal form at the beginning of the year.

  • Through “sharing” are we oversharing our students AND our own children’s lives before they can truly give consent?

It’s a thought provoking question and that is for sure. It was fascinating to hear my classmates share how they as parents take certain precautions when sharing their own children’s lives in online spaces. It had me reevaluating what I have shared when it comes to my nephew or my friends’ children.

I know that in my classroom beyond the parental consent that I obtain at the beginning of the year. I also ask my students for their assent more than once, as we learn about Digital Citizenship allowing them to reevaluate whether or not they would like their blogs to be visible to others in the class, or their faces and work visible on social media. If the parent has given consent, and the child has expressed they don’t give assent I still do not include them as a way to show the students that they have autonomy over their digital footprint, and that I will respect it. Although I do encourage the student then to go home and have that conversation with their parents about why they changed their mind. At grade five I feel my students are capable of having those conversations and somewhat thoughtfully coming to an autonomous conclusion – but I truly don’t know how I would approach this topic were I teaching a younger grade level.

Melinda and Altan had many other important points to consider, and I am still unpacking everything I learned from Dr. Verena Roberts, but this is a summary of what I have been considering this week so far.

ECI 830 – what did this debate have you thinking over?


One thought on “The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER SIX – Openness and Sharing in Schools is not fair to our students.”

  1. Victoria, I love that you highlighted the difference between consent and assent. I think that was one of the points we were trying to make, but never really used the word (now I wish I had). It is so important to consult students every time we plan to post, or use their image in a public manner. Thanks for the “ping back” – my first one! 🙂


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