Todd’s Blog

Discussion on Al
March 22, 2008, 2:00 am
Filed under: ECI 831

On Wednesday, March 19 our class had the opportunity to discuss the issue of Al Upton’s weblog being shut down by the Autralian government. WE were fortunate to have Sue Waters of Australia join us on our Ustream/Skype discussion. She has excellent posts regarding this closure and a summary of our discussion. Much of the conversation centered around the reason for the government taking action. We discussed chain of command decisions, trying to understand why the governement stepped in. Here in Saskatchewan the consensus was that issues like this would be dealt with by administration of the school or by the division office. Why elected officials have stepped in is a curious point. This issue almost seems like a political move to get policy in place in an area where there is none. If the sole purpose of this move is to bring some consistency and guidelines to the use of students and the internet then I understand the purpose of the government’s actions. If not, then it is more about fear and lack of understanding. Nothing good can come from reactions based on fear.

We also discussed at length steps Al took. Sue stressed that Al had followed all the right steps to set up his Mini-Legends project. He had parental consent and permission forms. So at the heart of the matter becomes the given reason for shutting down the site…fear of online predators. This point was also discussed throughout the discussion session. There were supporters for both sides-> (a) that the risk is not any greater than other educational field trip, and that there isn’t any data collected on the risks of online stalkers and (b) that we should be diligent about the posting of personal information…none should be posted, only using pseudonyms.

Like most issues of a personal nature, both sides have valid arguments. When it comes to the protection of our children, sometimes logic takes a back seat. Who can blame anyone about being passionate in the protection and safety of children? I also beleive we need to protect our children, but the best weapon we have is knowledge. Education of our students is crucial. Our students need to understand what they are doing on the internet, the consequences of their actions and the importance of safe surfing habits.

 Another good read on this issue is Clarence Fisher’s post on his blog.

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