Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007

Public vs Private

Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
Number of replies: 72
I'm looking at all the links to student's thoughts and wonder what type of expectations these students have about the privacy of their thoughts?  In an odd way the web offers a type of anonymity because it is an ocean of words.  It can also create environments that feel secluded and private, where students may forget that they're not just creating a paper for a class assignment  Those  thoughts will be available to the whole world for the rest of their life, and perhaps even beyond. 

Instructors - Did you set an expectation with your students that you would be sharing links to their thoughts with other groups?  Or, because frameworks like LJ are not password protected - do the student have full realization that their thoughts will be available to the world - to infinity ("and beyond" as Buzz Lightyear would say)?

Christie Mason

In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Heather Ross -
This is an interesting point, Christie, but I think that it's important to think about other aspects of our students lives. Yes, we need to make it clear to students that what they right on public blogs is out there for everyone to see and always will be, but many of these students (more than most people realize) are already "out there" on MySpace, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and all of the rest of the social networking Web sites. This is a generation that's out there more than any generation before them. We need to make sure that they understand their exposure across the spectrum of these sites. 
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Heather- do you think such understanding of their exposure modifies their behaviour? I have a sixteen year old daughter who spends much of her time on MySpace- for her the issue of exposure seems totally irrelevant despite what I say to her... I wonder what are our values, our assumptions, our fears in this arena. Ought we to be more pro-active in policing and controlling?
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Christie

First thoughts: some research seems to suggest that the students these day seem to be a lot more relaxed about privacy than my generation. This certainly seems to be the case for my students' age group - 18+.They seem to be a lot less irritated about advertising in web pages than I am too, but this is probably a small price to pay for the free web services we now have access to.

One of the things we want to help students develop is a sort of public on-line identity and the reflective, considered and empathetic writing style that works best in blogs in most cases. This links to another discussion elsewhere in this seminar (where??) but I have found I have developed, unconsciously to begin with, a different writing style since blogging. I think of it as a sort of thinking aloud and not knowing who might be listening. If this idea bothers me for any particular post, I make it private. 

I think this is an important skill for students (all of us really) to develop. However I do appreciate it is a slightly different problem with younger students where a 'walled garden' approach might be better/safer. The bottom line I think is educating and preparing students for the public arena and introducing them to it gradually in a very self-aware way rather than banning public exposure and engagement.

This reminds me of a colleague in the early days of email and list servers for academic email discussion groups. This was an international list. A student sent a request for readings on a particular topic. My colleague warned the student against one book that had been suggested by another list member saying it gave a thin coverage of the topic, it was theortically naive and in parts factually incorrect. He thought he was replying to the student personally but sent his comment to the whole list membership, one of whom was the author in question. What we call in the trade a 'learning opportunity'.

PS This comment crossed with Heather's above. 95% of this years student intake to my School have accounts in Facebook.

In reply to Terry Wassall

a longer view

by Sarah Haavind -
Christie's observation that, students may forget that they're not just creating a paper for a class assignment ... Those  thoughts will be available to the whole world for the rest of their life, and perhaps even beyond echoes my concern raised earlier about blogging within education.

I hear both Heather and Terry, when they remind us that this is the facebook generation. On that score, I feel we have yet to see the potential for damage in the future when prospective employers, for example, use google to pre-assess future employees (don't we already do this today?). While on the one hand, it may not matter that much for entry-level positions, what about 20 years down the road?

However, what concerns me more, that Christie alludes to here, is that in an educational context, one's perspective is in flux, as are one's skills. The genre of blogging in a serious context, or recording emerging thinking with text, so to speak, could easily be interpreted to represent you at any time in the future, whenever it is viewed. I know this is also true when one authors an article or book, but that is a more formal process with its own set of built-in checks and balances.

Specifically, in my work in online professional development for k-12 teachers, adding a class blog still feels problematic because it seems unrealistic (even irresponsible) of me to expect my students to willingly explore mathematics and science concepts deeply (exposing to their potentially curious curriculum directors/administrators who may be peeking in exactly how knowledgeable they are (not) about the content). If the class blog were also behind the ELGG walled garden as Terry so compellingly calls it, that helps. But then, if that's the way we go (walled garden blogs), what's the essential difference between a threaded discussion and a class blog, really?

Why go to the trouble of adding the extra real estate beyond the WebCT or Blackboard wall? I'm still struggling with whether our latest hammer is the best tool for every task -- specifically for adult learning tasks/activities, and even when considering ways of informalizing (enriching, authenticating) learning. When it comes to education, we're still accountable. Learning in private and learning in public, as adults, are two different worlds.

It was helpful to look at some of the elementary classroom blogs shared here. That feels different, rich in learning opportunities and just plain wonderful! In the world of higher education and online professional development for teachers, I'm still unsure about the usefulness (even potential damage) of blogging as an educational activity.
Sarah
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: a longer view

by Heather Ross -
Sarah,

I totally agree about the issue of "flux". You're absolutely correct that we haven't seen the long-term impact of future employers, spouses or even government officials reading what we or our students put online in various locations.

I'm not saying that our students don't care and neither should we. I think that we need to be doing a better job of educating our students about these issues. If we keep their blogs private and ignore what they may be writing on other blogs, at MySpace, on discussion boards, etc. then we are not doing a very good job as educators.
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: a longer view

by Michael Griffith -
Sarah has raised some real questions around a Longer View of where our enthusiasm for blogging might lead.
Thank you Sarah. It is important to keep some broader perspective on all this.

For myself, I must say that the gains in the classroom and between classrooms outweigh the potential dangers. I have been so excited by the fact that my literature students can now come to university and engage immediately in a less formal mode of writing -leading in many cases to discovering the poet or the story writer in themselves. This has been fabulous for many of my students. Can I share with you some of the comments they themselves have made about this:


“The biggest benefit I have found using LiveJournal actually comes from being able to read other students "work". Acquaintances have become good friends, and LiveJournal has been the catalyst for that.” Joanne


“LiveJournal has created a great launching pad for my creative writing. Because of its ease and accessibility my writing does not end up in some forgotten scrapbook, its amazing to think that peers, tutors and even the world have access to my work!” Shaun

“If livejournal didn't exist I don't think I would have ever discovered my liking for writing poetry. It allows me to share my poetry and to also be inspired by other student's poetry! Great idea!” Stephanie

“Live Journal has become addictive for me! It's great because it's a place where I can write down my thoughts on various things we read and look at in literature and where I can get some feedback from other people. It's also entertaining/enlightening reading what other people write as well so I think it's a very good learning tool!” Karla

I can provide the URLs for all these students if anyone is interested

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: a longer view

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Sarah

Thoughts on hammers and the difference between blogs and threaded messages forums (fora?) like this one. Blogs are just a tool amongst others and the trick is to use it appropriately where it meets particular learning and teaching objectives. I don't think there is any suggestion that it is the best tool for every task, not in this seminar anyway.

I think blogging is very different from threaded message boards like this one. A blog has a single author in complete control and can make posts that are private or for specified individuals (some systems) or public. You can delete you posts and others comments whenever you wish. Sticking with the walled garden metaphor, it is like having a private potting shed where you can propagate ideas from seeds or from cuttings taken from elsewhere, some will die, some will flourish, you can transfer them to the garden to harden them off and, if desired, put some in the public garden for all to see and admire/criticise (getting a bit carried away here!). I think this is very different to the experience I am having contributing in this messaging environment. This is much harder work!

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: a longer view

by Michael Griffith -
Terry you are so right about the difference in demand. Keeping a level head in this seminar and keeping track of the multiplicity of threads is a huge, albeit, fascinating effort. It is a bit like trying to play a Bach Fugue on an organ with four keyboards and two rows of footpedals (not that I have done that!)... but the sounds we are producing in Cyberspace are quite extraordinary... thank you for your potting metaphors!
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: a longer view

by Derek Chirnside -
Michel and Terry:
There are tons of threads here.  I had yesterday off sick with flu (in the middle of summer) and wandered around the threads a bit more than usual.  But this morning I come back after some of you guys in different time zones have been posting - it's basically too much to Read - ponder - post, post, post ->> whioch is probably the ideal approach.   I just dip in a little here and there, and the problem this causes is repetition and fragmentation.

That's just life here at scope.  For the average one of us, there is just too much to process on these discussions.
For example: The "Blogs vs Forum" thread became quickly dispersed.  As Sylvia said, she was just a little too late with all us posting to spin off a thread.
That is among one of my points about forums.  (I nearly titled my post "In Praise of Forums")  You try and carry on this type of discussion with Blogs!!!!
But . . .  (at the risk of a digression) in forums . . .At present we lack a few tools/habits. . .
  • Tagging could help.  Some agreed tags on our themes could help group/respond to posts in our niche interests.
  • 'Annotations', once they become a more commonly understood tool could help - possibly.
  • "Monitor replies to this post" also.
  • Tags: "Monitor this thread" only, "Finished" etc
  • "Follow up on this thread" . . .
You can get the idea. This does help to focus our interaction.  But nothing can help if there are 16 NEW posts and we miss something since we have set up our attention on only a few threads - here is where community flows in - a tag that says "Jill thought Sally might be interested in this." (How cool would that be?)  Someone does some of the filtering for you??

Michael - I have NEVER seen so many responses in one 8 hour period ever in any of these scope forums!!!  On a quick scan we are now getting into some nitty gritty "Really using blogs with classes, tips and tricks and stories"  This is of interest to me. 
Thanks for all you are doing.  I'm gone for a while.  I'm not even in the garden, the potting shed or anything for a while.  - Derek
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: a longer view

by Christie Mason -
It is true, SCoPE discussions on any topic tend to fragment a lot, more than any other discussion forum (around 75 over the last 5 years) that I have experienced. 

I do not know if it because it is browser only, or if it is the participation audience not understanding when, or how to split a thread or the application being used, or something else.  It is something I have been trying to figure out but have not.

Christie Mason
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: a longer view

by Christie Mason -
It is true, SCoPE discussions on any topic tend to fragment a lot, more than any other discussion forum (around 75 over the last 5 years) that I have experienced. 

I do not know if it because it is browser only, or if it is the participation audience not understanding when, or how to split a thread or the application being used, or something else.  It is something I have been trying to figure out but have not.

Christie Mason
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: a longer view

by Kelly Christopherson -
As an administrator, I think we have an obligation to teach students about the implications of what they do now and the impact that it may have on the future. Kind of like getting a tatoo of a Marjiuana plant on your arm when you are 2? and then trying to tell your kids to stay away from drugs when they are in their teens. However, having said that, I often think that if we become overly cautious, we won't do anything and it will be the sameold, sameold. It also depends what we want for the students. Do we want understanding of critical issues to be discussed in a context of large audience or just one-to-one or small group? What is the purpose of school? Why do we have schools? What do we expect from schools?
As a blogger, adult learner, administrator and father, I know that once anything is written, it can last forever. Heck, my mom just gave me something I wrote in highschool that is 20ish years old. It was very interesting to read, to see where I was and how my thoughts and ideas had changed but how some of them were still the same. I've kept it and read it with my kids. I guess, anything we do could potentially cause us problems in our future endeavours - like telling off a director/superintendent - that has some long term affects! We've also seen two beauty pageant queens get into trouble from videos of them during college. Yes, the past can really come back to bite us.
So we need to educate and use the tools that students have available, teaching them to be responsible citizens, guiding them while also understanding that they are children and will make mistakes. When does that no longer hold water? Depends what you do. For beauty queens, high school. For people involved in various trades, maybe never. It is very difficult to teach children the right and wrong way to do things by just telling them. Like driving a car. We tell them in drivers ed class but we also guide them through practice driving and other stipulations. We usually don't just say, "Hey, you're sixteen, go hard!" and turn them loose.
I work from a positive/proactive vision of where we are going. Things will go wrong, sure, but we can and will be able to deal with it. How will all this pan out in the future? NO CLUE! Will those people doing wild things on YouTube and MySpace regret their actions? For sure some will. Do I regret some of my actions of youth? Sure do. Will it cost them? Yep, for sure. Did it cost me? Sure did, but I learned great  things from those mistakes and work to improve what I do and who I am because of them. Blog or no blog, people will say and do things that will affect them later on in ways they cannot imagine. Teaching students to be responsible users will be a beginning step to reducing those who do such things.
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Terry- yes I agree that the current generation at Uni are much more relaxed bout privacy. I also think that your thoughts on writing styles appropriate to particular purposes is very useful. What I have found with my own students however is that the blogging environment tends to free them into their own vernacular... part of me responds positively to this... another part of me is a little fearful of what higher authorities might think: I am promoting subversive Language in an institutional setting?? V-. V-.
I have spoken about this issue elsewhere in this seminar, but I must say that this semester I have tried to lay down some guidelines for appropriate language-

This is what I say in my rubric:

"While you are encouraged to write informally you are also required to use appropriate language. What does this mean? It means that you treat your LiveJournal space as a professional space, but one where you can also let your hair down as necessary. So redundant or unnecessary violence, gratuitous pornographic references or offensive language are not permitted in your LiveJournal space for this unit. This is not meant to restrict your creativity- as you know some legitimate creativity uses all or some of these elements. If you have any doubts about including anything please discuss it with the lecturer or the tutor before uploading. "

What does anyone think about this guideline?
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
I would like to add to this question about public versus private with a REAL LIFE example from a discussion with my Head of School today who felt that - after reading the assessment details that I have laid down for my student blogs- that there might be some danger in encouraging students to write about their own lives.

Here is the task description I have given for my students. It is the section describing "Creativity" which my HOD feels is dangerous. Students should not feel under any compulsion to write about their own lives. I think there may be some justification in this thought, but I would be very interested to hear any one's point of view on this. I think it does raise a very interesting question about the way Blogs are, of their nature, personal, self-revalatory and thereby a challenge to the culture of the mask, of academic objectivity..... What do you think?

Here is part of the task description for my students. I will attach a file with this section in its larger context for anyone who is really interested.

What do I write each week?

There are three categories of writing. You must do the first one. The other two are optional although you must attempt these other two at least a few times in the semester. The more you try them the better you will get at them. In the end this will mean that you will probably get a higher mark for your LiveJournal overall.

So what are the three categories?
a) Comments/ ideas arising from your reading for this unit for the given week. Minimum 200 words. There will be some ideas and suggestions in a list in the LiveJournal portal in WebCT, but you do not have to follow any of these suggestions. You might like to use this 200 words to simply say what you really liked about the literature studied this week or what questions it stirred up in you.
b) Creativity. This is not compulsory for each week, but you will have to include a few entries in this category over the semester to be eligible for all the marks allocated to LJ. Here, it will be obvious, the more you try this category, the better you will get at it, so by the end of the semester you will have more examples to demonstrate for your assessment. Creativity in this context means any of the following: writing freely about any aspect of your life experience here and now; writing a poem or a story based on your life experience or based on something you have read this week; expressing yourself through using images (still or video) and maybe through integrating images with text… the sky is the limit here (as you will discover when you browse through some of the work completed by second and third year students).
c) Review a LiveJournal entry of another person in the group. Again this is not compulsory for each week, but you will need to have a few of these comments by the end of the semester, because there will be a mark for your best comment. Comments should typically be around 100 words in length and should be constructive. Writing (and receiving) comments is an important part of building the LiveJournal community that supports the work in the unit overall. How do I make comments? You simply go to the entry of someone else in the group (could be one of your “friends”), read it and then click on the comments button. Be sure to copy and paste a copy of your comment (with its date and the URL of the person you are commenting on) into your own LiveJournal so that you have a record of your comments.

In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Christie has raised an important question about privacy.
In my own case students are aware that LiveJournal has a number of tools that can block or restrict access to a narrower friends' group. I encourage them to use these until they are comfortable with the media.
After that I encourage them to make their blogs widely available so that all Literature students at the university can potentially connect with each other.
I actually publish a full list of all student URLs and encourage them to go seek like minds.
In the three years that I have been using blogs in this way I have very rarely had a situation where a student has had to deal with some unwanted outsider. That is not to say it won't ever happen, but so far it seems to me that if you are running blogs within an educational environment with a specifice educational purpose there is little attraction for poachers or other unwanted types....

Have others any experiences to share along this line?

Cheers
Michael
V-.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -

Publishing URLs within an educational system and telling students you are publishing their links is one situation. Publishing links to assignments that are completed for a class to the outside world is a different situation. What I do not see is alerting students to the possibility that links to their blogs will be distributed outside their specific educational entity.  They may not "care" or they may care very much.

Back in the old days, I would accept that other instructors might see any paper I wrote. If the instructor intended to publish it for other students to read, then I was always informed and implied consent by not objecting.   But, if the instructor had started making copies and giving them to anyone they encountered all over the world, I would not have felt that was appropriate.  Consenting to sharing within on sphere does not imply consent to a larger sphere.

The other issue that I see is the infinite life of the Internet. Politicians & executives today have been known to regret taped remembrancesof their passionate college viewpoints. When you are college age, you just cannot conceive that you may change your mind, or even be embarrassed by the beliefs you feel so closely committed to today.    What's written into the web, especially since it sounds like most of you are using public services on public web servers,  today can ripple infinitely by being cached and indexed and resaved in other ways and other systems.  I think it may be entirely possible that a future journalist, HR person or anyone else could dig the web and find these blog assignments.  How many of you would want to see your college class assignments Googled today?
In reply to Christie Mason

my college papers...

by Sarah Haavind -
Christie asks, How many of you would want to see your college class assignments Googled today? I have to say that this question really stops me. Because I sure would not want that...and it brings me to a sort of ethical question about setting our students up for future embarrassment of a kind I wouldn't want brought upon me.

So while on the one hand I see the "break down the school walls" advantage of real blogging, I am also not convinced using tools within the walled garden is the wrong way to go...still pondering.
Sarah
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: my college papers...

by Alec Couros -
I too agree that individuals of society in general (not just students or youth) do not have much understanding the many issues regarding privacy re: the Internet and digital culture. However, when I see the question How many of you would want to see your college class assignments Googled today?, I wouldn't personally have any objections to this. Perhaps my college assignments didn't demonstrate the understanding that I have today, but I can certainly see how the progression of one's thought patterns could be beneficial in a number of ways.

Now, certainly, I can see student profiles on facebook or myspace to be problematic. For instance, I teach preservice teachers, and recently, one revealed his myspace page to me, and I quickly initiated a conversation with him re: web privacy, professional conduct, etc. It was certainly an image of himself that he would regret later on in life. It was deleted, although of course, this doesn't mean that it will disappear for sure.

As for assignments, blog posts, etc., I don't see implications to the same extent. I think as instructors, we need to help our students publish and discuss things that are academically and ethically acceptable. If there is severely flawed thinking (as we view it), or if it crosses ethical lines, we should certainly step in and help students reconsider. I think that's part of our role, but certainly, we don't have absolute control of this.

My point? I think we need to be critical here, and help students protect their privacy online, or at least, understand the implications. In our classes, let's help students keep from posting things that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to them. However, let's not be overly alarmist to the point that we do nothing, and start moving back the days where we have students publish, produce and think in private circles, independently and alone.
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: my college papers...

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Alec- this was something I partly addressed in the "New to Blogging" thread. There I presented the example of a "potentially embarrassing" issue that I allowed to run its course, partly because I liked the "heat" being generated by the discussion (so many students were getting involved) and partly because I felt that in the relatively "safe" atmosphere of a University blog my students were cutting their teeth on some really important issues that would not be so easy to discuss "outside".... here is the essence of what I contributed in that other strand of our conversation:

Let me share with you an extraordinary "event" that occurred between two of my courses (third year and first year): a first year student (actually participating in this seminar) produced a visually and conceptually challenging video/poem which reflected on the corrupting impact of the media on spirituality. His poem contained glimpses of ponorgraphic content. The pressure was on (by some third year students) for me as facilitator to step in and vetoe the content. I could see that this was potentially a very valuable learning experience for all involved where issues of real human concern would be thrashed out in the relatively safe environment of a course blog. The environment was electric: students from all persuasions came out in defense of either side, the moral issues were thoroughly debated. If you want to have a closer look observe the 54 comments that followed hard on the heels of this blog: http://mitchobrien.livejournal.com/2006/09/28/.... and this was not the end of the story... but the whole student (Literature) community became deeply engaged in the questions surrounding this poem.....

So the question for me- as I think for you- is: to what extent should we be controlling such output?
And how do we draw the line for what might be academically and ethically acceptable?
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: my college papers...

by Kelly Christopherson -
Very interesting little debate that goes on. To answer your first question - To what extent should we be controlling such output? Depends on the context. In this situation, in a university where debate is healthy and people must learn to differentiate between debate, issues, personal slander and other such things, I don't think there is a need to wade in. However, in a grade school or high school, I wouldn't have let it get past page one! There are too many other variables that would infect what was happening. In a business environment, I'd stop it cold. It isn't contributing to the overall productivity of the business so it would need to stop. Out in "cyber space" - in, let's say, a community like found at MySpace or other places - it would probably be up to the person who is the monitor/owner. For most of them, there is a code-of-conduct that is used to establish what is allowed and what is not allowed, much like YouTube.
For question two - how do we draw the line for what might be academically or ethically acceptable? I believe that this involves the social norms and culture in which you live. What might be acceptable in one space will not be in another. In this little debate, it might have been useful to suggest that all posts that have adult content have a delay similar to that found in MySpace or YouTube. That way, the images would not pop up immediately. It would not silence anyone but would allow people to make their own choice over the content. In another context, the examples in the world community of the comics of the Islamic prophet Mohammed demonstrated how what one group finds acceptable another does not and the reaction that ensues  establishes the point of acceptability. In another context, we continue to debate such things as abortion, same-sex marriages and stem-cell research and, as the social context changes, so does the reaction. How do we draw the line? Very carefully!
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: my college papers...

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you Kelly for some excellent suggestions... I must explore the delay possibilities in YouTube.... which many of my students use....
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Christie has raised some key issues here about the widest context of the blogging we might be so excited about today. I must confess this is something that I do not think about too hard in the day to day enthusiasm of getting students to write and promoting their creativity. But it is something that needs thought. We are working in a totally new media environment and we really have so little idea of how it will be stored, maintained and used in the future. But at the same time I don't think we would want excessive fearfulness in his direction stop us from what we are attempting now. I think what is needed (and this is partly what Christie is generating here) is a THINK TANK that deals with the widest implications -in time and extent... so that perhaps some clearer guidelines for present practice might emerge....
Sorry Christie to give you such a legalistic brief!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
I hope that no one has the perception that I am promoting the total lockout of blogging.  I am also not promoting waiting around for IT to install blogging, or other collaboration tools, behind firewalls.  I just think there are some points to ponder, that haven't been pondered.

I love discussion forums and I remember when it was discovered that Yahoo was, still is but not as blatently, harvesting information about members of their free discussion groups.  It was also very, very easy to scrape group pages and obtain all sorts of info, without being a member of that group.

There is no such thing as free.  When you use, or have students use, a free online service you do not really know what will be done with that information, or if it is a secure environment now and what type of focus on security and privacy will be maintained in the future.

If there's one thing that doesn't change about the 'net, it's that it's always changing.  What is private today will be exposed tomorrow, what is secure today probably won't be secure tomorrow, the agenda of a free service will change as it's sponsors and community change.

Christie Mason
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
These are important considerations Christie... there are several comments on this that need perhaps to be brought together... It is the "long view", the consideration of how all this current activity is going to be used or accessed in years to come...
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Christie,

Although I see what you are saying, I also know that if we do nothing out of fear of tomorrow, we will be incapcitated forever. Therefore, as a careful educator, I take precautions that will guard against the immediate and near future. Without that precaution, people can get themselves into great trouble. However, using the knowledge we have and the understandings that we have, we can only make assumptions about what the future holds and make our decisions using the information and understandings that we have right now.
You are right, all our online activity may be monitored. That's why I tell all my students to not do anything that would get you or your family into trouble because, in an electronic world, you never know where things might end up!
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
Nothing on the web is private.  That statement is not about creating fear or caution.  It is about exploring all the ripples, ramifications and unintended consequences. 

"Do not write anything that you would not want your mother to read." is one rule of thumb I have seen promoted.  But, many assignments are designed to demand that students dig into into inner dialogue and publicly expose it, "I want to know what you are thinking".  Dialog that they would not want their mother to see, yet must be exposed to gain the approval of the instructor.

I keep remembering a certain professor from my past with his continuous urgings to "delve deeper, expose more".  I confess that it got to the point that I made up stuff simply to satisfy his demands, also got an "A+".  What would I do with that professor today?  If I adhere to the "mother" directive then my private thoughts would stay private and I would flunk the course, yet pleasing the professor would be a directive with equal and opposing weight.  How would I resolve that conflict?   Since the demands of the professor are known and immediate, and since being successful in school means understanding how to please professors,  I would still make up stuff and post it.  Stuff that I would not want my mother to read with fingers crossed that it would never be viewed by unintended audiences.  The demands of the tangible today override intangible considerations of the future.

It may be that everyone on this forum understands how to self-censor their postings, everyone may even carefully consider every blog assignment with full awareness of what they demanding from their students;  but not every instructor is a member of this forum.

Christie Mason

In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Again, I partially agree with you. We already know that people are doing things on the web and not considering their actions. However, with the advent of video recording, we have seen a number of highprofile people who have been put in rather negative situations because they were recorded on video, without their knowledge. With that being the case, you can still find yourself in trouble, much like the beauty queen contestants, without even going to the web. I also had a prof who was very similiar to yours when I took a poetry appreciation class and many of our students will run into situations when they have to decide how to handle a situation that is rather questionable. It won't matter if it is a prof or an employer or some person videotaping private moments, it is important that we understand that "privacy" is a very loose term these days and all people, myself included, must be aware of our actions.
I don't know if all people on this forum understand how to self-censor or if they carefully consider their assignments. I do know that it really doesn't matter if it is on a blog, shot with a camera-phone, recorded with a digital recorder or video taped, there is no guarantee that your past won't come back to bite you. Like the johns who are caught on video and in pictures, their actions are used without their knowledge or their consent. Is it right? Eventually we will need to answer that question as a society. When is it okay to look at past personal incidents in order to inform a present decision? We do it quite regularly now - especially when we can watch someone in power or in a high position fall from grace. Maybe, with the use of blogs, there will be a realization by the average person that there are things that need to be private and past digressions don't necessarily reflect the present situation. Then again maybe not. So, don't use blogs or wikis. You haven't actually removed the threat of having past events being used against people. Heck, from what I've seen with the videos and pictures from porn advertisements, the blogs and wikis are the least of people's worries. Really, the ads on tv are just as bad. I really don't know if a blog entry 20 years from now will be any more or less damaging than a video, picture or some other artifact that may get posted, without the person's knowledge. Heck, we can now have things made up so you actually don't have to do anything and still be put in a compromising position.  Hopefully, grade school children of today will not be judged by their work 20 years from now as they make their way into the world workforce. Of course, they might but maybe we can worry about that bridge when we get there.  
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Light Relief (2)

by Derek Chirnside -
This I found in a blog today.
http://bp2.blogger.com
My friend at work wears a Tee Shirt "I'm blogging this"
Don't try to read too much meaning into this.


Attachment Silentblog.jpg
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you for broadening the discussion Kelly.
A question I would like answered is:
Is there a danger in a university assignment, either explicitly or implicitly suggesting to students that they write about their own lives in their blogs. From one point of view this direct contact with their experience is empowering; it brings colour, flair and creativity to the their writing. But from another point of view -implied in a number of posts here: if students feel the professor wants raw life.... they will give it to him in spades... .even if it compromises their own privacy...
So am I pushing the boundaries beyond the acceptable in making this suggestion to them?

Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
What did you do during your summer vacation? Something we've seen many a time and, depending on the student, will end up with various degrees of information revealed in the answer. Will that be used in the future against someone? Depends on the grade and the information. As I've suggested in the post before, we have entered a new era of information sharing. We have a whole new group that treats their online identity very differently than we do. Is it right and will it cause problems? It might. But, just like we cannot predict the jobs these young students will have, we cannot predict how the future will play out regarding information, privacy, personal space and many more situations that we have yet to encounter. Because change in culture is happening faster and faster, we are having to react to change at a much faster rate which can be unsettling for people, especially those who are familiar with the old paradigm when change occurred at a much slower pace. Because these new technologies allow us to share and interact in ways that we have not be able to until now, we are uncertain and leery of how this will affect things we previously did. So, will we need to reframe our questions? Possibly. Will we have to stay away from the personal? Could be a solution. Right now, I can see how hype, hysteria and uncertianty will drive the decisions in the next few years until we sort out some of these things. I'm still going to use the summer question! It's a keeper.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Fantastic... me too... with my first year uni students... let them share and tell and get to know each other this way. I meet my first year crowd next week and will be talking to them about the LiveJournal commitments for the next 12 weeks and the first thing I will suggest they write (but I won't put this down in black and white- I will get strung up by the authorities... believe me yes!)... is tell us a story about the most interesting thing that happened to you this summer just gone... and for us here, far down under, under the sun, it has indeed just been summer... still is in fact (25 degrees Centigrade outside my office window as I speak at 7.25am)... thank Kelly
Michael :o) :o)
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
I think this is a critical point Christie but it raises real questions about what guidelines we should set, what boundaries should we draw? And since this is such a new field we/find I have to create the boundaries myself... and then find that they are not entirely adequate....
Someone asked in another post: are there any thoroughly developed blueprints for best practice in blogging.... I must confess I have not found such a document. Have you?
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
I know of lots of words written on the topic but I would not recommend any of them.  Why?  Because they are written within the boundaries of unknown perceptions of an undefined environment, influenced by individual experiences. 

I confess that I have a deep distrust of using documented "best practices".  Not only are they rarely effective, but they smell of avoidance.  It is hard work to question and expose perceptions and assumptions.  Being able to say "so and so said this was a best practice", is often a "best practice" to avoid responsibility. 

My only suggestion would be to create the type of environment where, without fear of retribution or loss of approval, your students feel free and open to expose and question the assumptions made by assignments that you perceive as appropriate, but they may not.  

Due to the politics of power and control between instructors and students, and the diverse agendas of instructors and students; that's probably impossible to achieve.  Which leaves me with one suggestion, "Don't demand that your students reveal anything in a web supported media that they, not you, wouldn't be comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper."  In five years that won't work because no one will know what a newspaper is,  but it is the only recommendation that I would be comfortable making that I would be willing to see on the front page of a newspaper.

Christie Mason

In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Christie has offered some really useful guidelines for addressing questions of privacy in educational Blogs....

Any other thoughts on this would be very welcome....

Thank you Christie: I found especially useful your reminder: "Don't demand that your students reveal anything in a web supported media that they, not you, wouldn't be comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper."

This is something none of us keep in mind enough... we are so concerned with this moment and have no idea, or sense of how our present enthusiasms will impact on our students' futures.

So I have in fact incoportated this sentence into the re-write of my LiveJournal guidelines.... thanks a million.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Christie has offered some really useful guidelines for addressing questions of privacy in educational Blogs....

Any other thoughts on this would be very welcome....

Thank you Christie: I found especially useful your reminder: "Don't demand that your students reveal anything in a web supported media that they, not you, wouldn't be comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper."

This is something none of us keep in mind enough... we are so concerned with this moment and have no idea, or sense of how our present enthusiasms will impact on our students' futures.

So I have in fact incoportated this sentence into the re-write of my LiveJournal guidelines.... thanks a million.
Cheers
Michael

For anyone who is interested please see my LiveJournal(update) attached file- which I have been fine-tuning for release to my students next week... all comments are welcome....

In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
Michael, thank you for your enthusiasm for my thoughts.

Just one little, teeny, tiny, itty bitty suggestion.  Run that document through a spell checker before you post it to your students.  

Oh, and you may want to remove the comma after "you".
Don't reveal anything in a web supported media that you, wouldn't be comf

You must be the change you want to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

With appreciation,
Christie Mason


In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you very much Christie for taking the time to do that....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
No best practices? Are you suggesting that the information given to young teachers outlining best practices of teaching is so much bunk? That, indeed, there are no best practices but just exceptional people who happen to have the same way of doing things? 

Going even further with the whole newspaper thing, don't do anything that you wouldn't want to see posted on the front page - you never know who has a camera.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
"don't do anything that you wouldn't want to see posted on the front page - you never know who has a camera."
Great to have this reinforced from all sides Kelly... thank you

So- am I reading you correctly: there are best practices and we need to draw them from the exceptional examples? Have I got you right?... then where can we get hold of these practices? are they written down? dramatized?

Michael
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Wise advice Kelly... something I will be telling my first year bloggers when I meet them next Monday
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

The comments about college papers coming back to haunt you, brought a chuckle. I've had one of my college papers online for 7 years posted by one of my profs. In the long run, it's been useful because people cite it regularly and I've published articles in journals because an editor liked what I wrote. I've had people track me down so they can discuss the paper.

 

In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
I have a medical education blog running out of a university setting and every day I get comments that are essentially buy viagra or look at my porn site. Luckily I have the ability to check comments before posting them.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Public vs Private

by Terry Wassall -
This is why we have public commenting turned off as the default in our system at Leeds Uni. We can choose to make particular posts publically commentable if we wish but then this exposes them to spam. Some systems have a spam filter facility. Others require the commenter to enter a code displayed as a graphic that spambots can't read. It's a real pain.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Public vs Private (Use wordpress!!)

by Derek Chirnside -
Deidre, I sympathise.  Why don't these people get a life???

It's time I made a "Wordpress rules!!" post.

1. Spam. I too have struggled with spam.  I now use Akismet inside wordpress.  This has a spam bucket inside my blog.  I am actually unsure how it works, but I suspect it checks things against a database somewhere and makes a good guess.  I then scan the pages of comments, and click "delete" and I think a message goes back to home base to re-confirm the logic of the program in determining these as spams.
For a blog with lots of comments (which mine is NOT) this is a constant battle.

2. Static Pages. Michel also asked:
From Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching. by michaelgriffith on Monday, 12 February 2007 7:52:00 a.m.:
I am also interested in what she means by "static and dynamic pages" in Wordpress? Probably too many questions - but these are aspects that others may wish to comment on?
Lets say your purpose is to run a class blog for HIST320.  In wordpress it is really easy to have your blog section and then add 'static pages' (ie these are a little more permanent, they are not blog posts)
You may have tabs like this:
           Blog | Contact | About HIST320 | My CV

ie the last 3 tabs go to 'static pages'.  Very easy to do in Wordpress.

Wordpress is free and open source.  I like it, it has a few other nice features: easy to use themes, lots of plug ins, nice interface.  BUT - and this is a slight reflection of the real learning curve in the technical (as opposed to mental/emotional) aspect to blogs - it is true some of the things take a bit of time to sort, and in my case, I've just left them for a while . . .
BUT:
  • You can find hosted solutions where it is all done for you.  We want to spend more time on the enhancing learning experiences rather than tinkering with technology.
  • Even a stock standard plain vanilla install of wordpress is great.
  • I'm talking about a few lone bloggers here: while there are ways to set up WP to manage LOTS of blogs off one installation, I don't know much about how this goes.
I guess my reflection is this: Blogging may support some creative learning experiences, provided the technology doesn't get in the way . . .
-Derek

PS.  As I wrote I wondered "Is Akismet available for other blogging platforms?"
Yes it is.  Here is what they say today:

722,071,620 spams caught so far - 4,261,825 so far today - 94% of all comments are spam http://akismet.com/


In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Public vs Private (Use wordpress!!)

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Derek:

I was just discussing a related issue in the "New to blogging" thread where I was responding to Michael Rees. I think what you have drawn attention to in WordPress's capacity to operate with a number of separate TABS (if I understand you correctly) could be the perfect solution for the problem I have outlined. Am I hearing you correctly that Wordpress as it were allows multiple strands of quite different content within the one blog- separated by TABS????.... : See my comments:

Michael Griffith - Thursday, 15 February 2007, 10:45 PM
Michael (Rees) is drawing attention to an aspect of blogging that needs some more serious attention.
I like very much the way he returns to this idea of the blog being an on-going, ever expanding, record of a student's study.
In my own field, one of my students -Timb Hoswell (you can find a number of his contributions to this seminar)- drew attention to the fact that for him and some of his colleagues the blog could serve as a "Portfolio" of creative works (video poems, works of art and literary texts inspired by these....)...
So lying behind these ideas is notion that a blog is far more than a place for casual exchange, but is in fact a place for serious collections (of knowledge, of art works, of research etc.... )
I think this is a fascinating way to think about Blogs.....

I know in my own outline to students of what I expect from their blogs- and what they might expect from their blogs- I tend to promote simultaneously a number of different uses: Use it to clarify your thoughts about your reading, use it to project your life interests, use it to create a community with your peers, use it as a place to store your course notes.... so there are a multiplicity of uses... and maybe it is difficult for students to get a clear handle on all these possibilities simultaneously.... (sorry I am thinking aloud)...... but I think all these functions are legitimate and empowering... I am just thinking how they can all be neatly contained within the one student blog....
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Deidre- Welcome
I have this issue with my email in-box but not with my Literature & Life Blog.... This clearly has something to do with the audience that your blog has generated... perhaps medical blogs are more susceptible to poachers of this kind... I am not sure what to suggest here other than maybe giving your Blog a totally new title.....
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I used to get a lot of spam on my WordPress blog - Aksimet did a great job of catching it, however, due to an attack on the server, they have done *something* - and now I get next to none. (But, legitimate comments can still be posted).

Personally, I don't think that it's the nature of the blog that attracts them, so much as the number of links you have to your blog.
For example, do you post the link to your blog when you comment on other blogs, Michael & Deidre? Do you have many other people linking to your blog in their comments.

My gut feeling is that the more you have links to your blog out there, the more spam bots come along. They don't care what the blog is about - what they care about is getting links to their sites. I have a link about it somewhere - I'll find it, but I have to go to a meeting now.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Silvana Carnicero -

I haven't gone through the experience of recieving unwanted comments in blog till this year.

I have a blog  which I designed for an online project that deals with exchanging information about schools around the world and there I received kind of insulting cooments that have nothing to do with the topic. I solved that by moderating the comments. that is to say, coomets are not published till I read them. I recieve in my mailbox an email informing me that I have some comments to moderate so I read them and if they are appropriate, I publish them.

Something similar happened within my own school setting. I had some students who made fun of their classmates through the blogs. Therefore, now I moderate those commets too to avoid parents' complaints.

 

In reply to Silvana Carnicero

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Silvana has an important solution to a problem that a few of us are facing from time to time. Most Blogging providers do allow the for very effective editing control of incoming comments. They can easily be deleted as necessary.
Thank you for this suggestion Silvana
MIchael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
As someone involved in a public situation as principal of a school, I consider anything I say or do as public. Although I have discussed that this is not fair and all the rest, it is still a reality that I live within, especially in a small town.  So, when it comes to blogging and my school website, I know that I must be aware that what I say and post is always "public" just as my actions in public are viewed.

For students, we are using David Warlick's Blogmeister program which allows the teacher to oversee what is being posted and to assure that information is related to what is being studied. I've found that this is important - I've had to delete comments that were inappropriate - and I can give students suggestions before they publish - which helps me to track what they are doing.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Gladys Baya -
I feel much like Kelly:
" As someone involved in a public situation as principal of a school, I consider anything I say or do as public. Although I have discussed that this is not fair and all the rest, it is still a reality that I live within, especially in a small town.  So, when it comes to blogging and my school website, I know that I must be aware that what I say and post is always "public" just as my actions in public are viewed. "

... though I'm, just a teacher in a large city!

Training EFL teachers-to-be, I feel this is something they must learn before graduation, too... Yet, I was shocked to realise they had no idea of the publicity of their words / actions when I introduced blogging into one of my classes last year (they were 2nd year teacher trainees, about to graduate and in all cases already working at schools!). Ala, these people had been building a "professional image" with many teachers (who might be asked to recommend them for job vacancies) for two years, and still believed they were invisible! They wouldn't even spontaneously "look" at their partners, used as they were to individualistic educational systems in their childhood and teen years... sad

So I talked about it, and looked for commentators to their blog posts anywhere in cyberspace, to help them see they were not "invisible"... woulnd't say I was that successful, though!

So the question for me remains: how to help my students safely go through this transition... and if my students are under age, how to protect them from exposure to the world at all!

Gladys
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
I was a teacher in a larger city and everything I said does hold true, like it or not. Now, if you want to have your teacher-trainees get feedback, I might suggest that you look for people who might be willing to do this, such as myself or other teacher-trainees in other universities.
Now, if you are looking for people closer to home, you might try to make some contacts in SL on eduisland. I've met people from Brazil, Mexico and Chile while there, just wandering about. Me wandering about, I tend to do that while there!
As for students who are minority age, you could look for someone interested in doing a collaborative project, flatclassroom project, or make contacts with other teachers who have students interested in doing a similar exchange. If you were to look at this blog or this blog, you will be able to read what some students are doing. I haven't made contacts myself, but you can bet that I'm trying! 
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Tamara Gardner -
Personally, it is not an issue that really bothers me.

I'm aware that what I write has a possible audience, and if there is something that I am not sure about writing I don't write it. On the other hand, if I do change my mind about something that I have written, then I do have the option of deleting it. It has also been pointed out thah students have the option of making posts "private", this is not yet something that I have felt the need to utilise, although I know that some other students do.

I actually enjoy writing knowing that atleast one person (Michael) is going to be reading it. :)

Tamara
Second Year ACU Student
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks again Tamara- so good to have this personal experience of the student assessed for their bloggs contributing to this massive discussion.
Michael
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Tamara,

Will you be going into education? Not sure what ACU stands for.
As an educator, I've found that, although I didn't like that my out-of-school life was "reviewed", I either had to accept that or be ready to face the consequences of my actions. So, as a young adult, in my mid-20's, I became aware, very quickly, that my actions at a local bar or at the arena or any other place, were noticed and would eventually get back to me - even in a large city. It's amazing how news seems to travel. I'm not sure how it does that, but if you want to make sure that someone hears something, mention it off-hand to someone, suggest that it is not to be public, and they'll find out. That's my experience anyway. Of course, having never taught in a city of over 1 million, I can't say this holds true there.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Tamara Gardner -
Kelly,

At the monent I am at the Australian Catholic University, I'm studying the Bach Teaching/Bach Arts in Secondary Humanities.

Probably thankfully, I am already one of those people who is very much aware of my own actions and any reprecussions that they may have, regardless of which area of my life they may be in.

lol I think that that rule probably holds true everywhere.

Tamara
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly is raising an important issue here which is surfacing in current guidelines indicating that we should not encourage personal life stories as part of assessment at ACU (Australian Catholic University). For me as a teacher of Literature and as someone who encourages students to write with passion (to strengthen and deepen their writing capacity) I am aware that often students write best (and this applies to great authors too) when they write directly about their own experience. So am I right to encourage this, or am I endangering students' privacy. There is something of a fine-line here and I would hate lawyers to step into this issue. But I must say, that in my experience, with the relatively small number of students that I work with (around 200 each year), even though there is the occasional blog about a drunken twenty-first birthday party, overall the life-stories that emerge in and through blogs are valuable exercises both for the writer and the reader...
Any opinions on this issue would be welcome....
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Well, Michael, a good story teller advised me that when telling a story, start with the truth and then twist it and tell a lie.  big grin I guess it depends on the need for the life stories. As an English major, I've spent enough time writing and going through various stories to understand the dilemna you speak about. I also found that students did best when they could make the stories personal. I wonder if to reveal any private issues at any time puts us at some sort of risk. Really, there is nothing that is secure, but death, and I don't think anyone is quite ready for that extreme. Writing with passion and conviction is something you might be able to encourage via handins but you won't get the same input as on the blog. I guess that you could provide a disclaimer stating that all information is private but with the nature of all information, it is possible that others may infiltrate the system and seize personal information that in the future may be used against  you. I really don't know since all our information is held electronically and, really, if you go to the extreme, we're one hack away from world destruction. 
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
"... one hack away form world destruction"..... nice phrase Kelly! And yes the tenor of your observation is very much along my lines of thinking too: let's all go around with holy veils so none can see what we think and feel... I don't think so. In my experience students LOVE to share their lives with each other... but your cautions are also valid. This semester I will make students more aware of the possibilities of privacy within LiveJournal (see attached image- posted for the second time) and will alert them to future dangers, but I won't discourage them from letting their fingers describe their lives in all its richness, connecting this, where they can, with the wonderful richnesses of the literature they are studying!.... We English majors are a strange breed now that we have been hooked by the electronic word: out there, in cyberdom, there is such a fantastic integration of word, image, music.... a kind of synaesthesia we have been dreaming of for centuries.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
there is such a fantastic integration of word, image, music.... a kind of synaesthesia we have been dreaming of for centuries.
Exactly!!  big grin
As an English major, it would have been such a rush to study The Bard or Woosworth or Hemingway or.... with the rich resources that are available. To put together multimedia mashups of pictures, sounds, words and video would have allowed for much deeper discussions of text rather than just the written word. While doing my MEd, one of the options that was being considered was exactly that kind of project, although not as ellaborate.
Of course, we cannot rush headlong into the night or we just may step on that rake in the grass black eye We are not what we were 5 years ago and all the wishing in the world will not change that fact. Common sense, combined with some technological precautions and  some forethought, will help to prevent us from experiencing the fate of people like Julie Amero. For some good reading on this particular case,check out Eric Hoefler Sicheii Yazhi site. However, all the precautions in the world, will not keep us entirely safe - kind of like birth control - the only sure method is to abstain! Each individual has to decide what they will do knowing that there are consequences for all actions.
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Richard Olsen -
When I was at uni, I was s8914153 (I think).  Do student blogs have to have infomation that identifies them to the world?

At our school, we use the student username as the blogs url eg. /usr and then let the student choose the blog's title.  The student is free to choose/change the display name that the blog posts are published under.  We have a rule that the last names of students are never used in emails (although our blogs are private, we do hope to open them up for the school community)

In a course, students could easily share urls, bookmarks and set up feed readers so that everyone knew who was who and could engaged in a shared discussion.

Also,
Our decision to have private blogs (we are k12 specialist school in Melbourne, Australia) was based on a number of reasons:
1. Parent concern
2. Photos in blogs (need parent permission forms)

We do plan to open up (via a password) our blogs to the wider school community sometime in the future.

Richard
In reply to Richard Olsen

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Richard,

The blogs we use for students identify them with their initials. They are told not to write their names on the blog and, because I see each blog before posting, I ensure that no personal information is used. Now, I do teach this in the class and I repeat it quite often. However, having seen some of the students MySpace accounts, one can see that what we do at school is not tranferred - it is quite startling how many people give out their personal information on these sites. With saying this, I also realize that many young adults also do this - maybe it's a case that we are seeing a shift in how people relate to one another with a more global perspective. I guess we'll see where this will take us.
In reply to Richard Olsen

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Sounds a good solution Richard.... and yes I do also allow all students to mask their real identity in whatever way the see appropriate.... if they want to.
I know in my own Blog http://michaelgriffith.livejournal.com I am not encouraging disguise... in fact I am being extremely open about my life and my opinions about literature. Is this naive of me? Should I be guarding my identity in this new world of identity theft.... etc... I am not quite sure what I should be thinking or feeling here. It has been such a blast to have a space where I can project my own identity in ways that I think might be valuable to my relationship with my students in class. I do have this idea that if they know the bigger picture of me then this strengthens some trust and understanding in the learning process. Should we be haunted by the possible repercussions of this kind of openness???? Should we allow the shadows of terrorism etc... impinge on our quest for creative self-expression
Michael
In reply to Richard Olsen

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Sounds a good solution Richard.... and yes I do also allow all students to mask their real identity in whatever way the see appropriate.... if they want to.
I know in my own Blog http://michaelgriffith.livejournal.com I am not encouraging disguise... in fact I am being extremely open about my life and my opinions about literature. Is this naive of me? Should I be guarding my identity in this new world of identity theft.... etc... I am not quite sure what I should be thinking or feeling here. It has been such a blast to have a space where I can project my own identity in ways that I think might be valuable to my relationship with my students in class. I do have this idea that if they know the bigger picture of me then this strengthens some trust and understanding in the learning process. Should we be haunted by the possible repercussions of this kind of openness???? Should we allow the shadows of terrorism etc... impinge on our quest for creative self-expression?
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Public vs Private

by Christie Mason -
Shadows of terrorism?  I worry more about "Clouds of Incompetence" and "Gnats of Naiveté".  The incompetence of those who promote their "free" service as "secure", the incompetence of those who put their passwords on post-it notes or in unencrypted files on their computer/email them to others/use the same username-password for everything. Those who naively believe that a password makes anything private and secure. 

If an adult, without any coercion, wants to post their most intimate details about themselves, and that person understands that a password is only a perception of security, and that person understands that "too much information" can be/will be personally & professionally harmful, and that person understands that what is free today will be owned by a company focused on leveraging profits tomorrow; then post deeply and expose all.  Just don't demand that others do the same.

If a student is not free to control what to keep private, who they will share what with, how & where they will share - without it affecting their grade or any other level of instructor approval - then that is not the above situation.

I keep thinking about hippies.  I liked the individualism they promoted, "be free, be open".  But then I noticed that they all dressed the same and spoke the same and had to appear to think the same.  It was a "gray flannel" suit culture, except that everyone wore jeans and sandals.

Christie Mason
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Christie has given us a very important cautionary reminder about the subtle implicit pressures that students have to deal with in the context of completing Blogging assignments - at school or university....
Students MUST FEEL FREE TO CONTROL WHAT TO KEEP PRIVATE, WHO THEY WILL SHARE WHAT WITH, HOW & WHERE THEY WILL SHARE- WITHOUT IT AFFECTING THEIR GRADE OR ANY OTHER LEVEL OF INSTRUCTOR APPROVAL....

This is such a critical point Christie... and thank you for expressing it so clearly....

So reflecting on my own situation vis-a-vis my students and my Blogging expectations (which I have attached in a revised format again)....

Of course I want my students to Blog... it is a pathway to their creativity, to their self-expression, to their community building within their course and between their course and other courses... I want to encourage this through giving credit for quality and quantity of work, for innovative practice (embedding photos, videos, text and image animations, sophisticated hypertext... you name it!).... and yet I must not push them into feeling the need to reveal anything about their personal lives they are not comfortable with......
so how do I this, how do I tread this fine line......
this is a critical question for me....
All thoughts are welcome on this one....

Thanks very much for stirring the rich paprika Goulash Christie
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Kelly Christopherson -
Well, being a cloud and a gnat at the same time must mean I'm pretty good at something  thoughtful Your hippie analogy is interesting and I'd say the hippies were more comfortable that the gray flannel suit culture. People who blog do it for various reasons and, unlike your hippies, we only sometimes dress the same. I definitely don't think the same as some of the other bloggers I've come across nor do I want to appear to think the same. So...
I've had a webpage for, well, years. I've used the internet since, well, before it was actually the internet and just universities were transfering information. As I've mentioned to Michael, the only secure thing is death because then it doesn't matter - but I'm not ready for that yet. Which means that I either worry that all my information is being sold on the black market or I trust. Simple. If not, well, the government has my SIN, all the banks and credit institutions have my credit information, my credit card is buying black marked DVD's and Dan Brown gets another best seller wink I believe we need to be cautious and use common sense, be diligent with what we do and make sure we unload the video camera before we loan it out (Lampoon's European vacation reference) or we could end up in trouble.
I believe education will change in the future, internet communication will be widely used and there will be some messy and chaotic things go on. Just like the 70's. And we're still here, now trying something different. Will it change and evolve? You bet. And that will cause more distress and anxiety for some people? Always does. But as a floating gnat, who is also naive (first time I've been called that by anyone, thanks!) I stick with what I've learned, what is working and what I see as the possibilities for the future.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly has given us a futuristic context for the whole discussion on blogging so far. Thank you Kelly. We need this kind of cautious optimism: if we were all driven by fear we would all be in hiding and nothing would get done. Like you I think a fair amount of trust is necessary. I am largely guided by the joy and empowerment my students begin to feel as they express themselves on line and find a ready audience... and get marks for it. They love it... and I love it... it gives me a whole new kind of relationship with them. Instead of being THE PROFESSOR intoning solemn words to the rabble at my feet, I am just one of them, sharing my joys, predelictions and insights as best I can: power to the Blog!
Ciao
Michael
:-D :-D ;-) ;-) B-) B-)
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly has given us a futuristic context for the whole discussion on blogging so far. Thank you Kelly. We need this kind of cautious optimism: if we were all driven by fear we would all be in hiding and nothing would get done. Like you I think a fair amount of trust is necessary. I am largely guided by the joy and empowerment my students begin to feel as they express themselves on line and find a ready audience... and get marks for it. They love it... and I love it... it gives me a whole new kind of relationship with them. Instead of being THE PROFESSOR intoning solemn words to the rabble at my feet, I am just one of them, sharing my joys, predelictions and insights as best I can: power to the Blog!
Ciao
Michael
:-D :-D ;-) ;-) B-) B-)
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Public vs Private

by Emma Duke-Williams -
The whole aspect of privacy vs. publicity is interesting.
Looking from a slightly different perspective, we also have the angle of how much we reveal about ourselves in this forum.

When I first registered with SCOPE, I wanted to alter something in my profile. It wouldn't let me go without me adding something in the "About me" field, or whatever it's called.

I didn't like that intially. I didn't see why I had to talk about me. I just put an "x" in. Then I remembered that whenever you go to a workshop the first thing they invariably make you do is "Who am I, Why am I here, and what do I expect to get out of this". Sometimes the answers to those questions can be the most useful part of the day - they're pointers to useful collaborators in the future. So I filled it in & uploaded a photo.

Looking at others' profiles though, they range from full with photo, to nothing.

Does it matter. To me, no. Yes, it could be good to know a bit more about people, but you can tell quite a lot from the way people posts. Does it matter to people who are reading what I write. I don't know. Perhaps it helps them get more of an angle on me. Who knows.

To get back to the blogs, yes, I think we do have to ensure students are aware of the potential consequences of posting online. Having a quite unusual name, I tend to use a screename that's very generic & non-identifiable as female (well, I don't think that it is, probably my posting style slants more to the feminine than the masculine), when I post on non-work based sites.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Public vs Private

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Emma- so yes your questions come close to my own on the value or otherwise of using the medium to present a public face. Certainly I encourage students to "get to know each other" through the medium. And that has been one of its most important social functions in my literature groups. Students can fast-track their common ground and can begin to take part in each others lives from around the 3rd week of the course....
Thanks for keeping this important topic alive Emma. You might have some further comments on my last post in this thread.
Cheers
Michael