Al Upton and The MiniLegends Update — What’s Happening
Al Upton and his Principal meet today with representatives from DECS (Department of Education and Children Services) and AEU (Australian Education Union) to discuss the report prepared by DECS Special Investigations and what needs to be done to get the Al’s students blogs back online.
For those unaware Al Upton was asked to close Al Upton and the miniLegend blog (and the student blogs) on 14 March while investigations regarding risk and management issues were undertaken. Main concerns were issues relating to use of student images on blogs and potential for cyberstalking because global adult mentors were interacting students. For more information on procedures Al used to set up his blogging program refer to this post.
Outcome of Today’s Meeting
This post is a summary based on the UPDATE 3 that Al has just posted on his blog which relates to his meeting today. Al’s whole mentoring and global collaboration is under severe threat — what he wants is constructive helpful comments that Al and his Principal can use to develop an action plan for student blogging.
Based on their discussions today DECS do not have any specific ‘blog’ policies or guidelines; responsibility (and liability) ultimately rests with his line-manager/principal assuming that he/she endorses the methodologies.
Some of the points raised in the meeting today included:
- Any communication between students and adults overseas was strongly advised against by both DECS and AEU representatives. Appears there were also concerns with even the idea of closed collaboration with classes in different countries
- Student identifiers e.g. photos/names/maps etc are a concern/risk. Student photos can be manipulated. Recommendations were that these need to be reduced as much as possible.
- Parental consent forms need to reviewed and reissued with a range of options for use of student images or avatars
- Individual student blogs were questioned with a general indication of that not being a good idea
My points are a summary of Al’s recollection of the meeting — you do need to read his update 3 on his blog.
Developing The Action Plan
Al and his Principal would appreciate the support of the community so that they can develop the action plan by taking into account all issues. They are after constructive helpful comments and thoughts; and a balanced discussion of the issues.
Check out this post for views raised on the issues so far.
He would appreciate constructive comments/posts on the mentoring program, use of individual blogs with students, student images/avatars/pseudonames etc.
9 thoughts on “Al Upton and The MiniLegends Update — What’s Happening”
Thanks for the summary, Sue. I’m impressed with the kind of balanced discussion they are hoping to have because, in my opinion, that is exactly what it takes: Balance. And a slender tight-rope they walk, indeed, when trying to please every party involved – especially when the safety of children is in question.
Funny they don’t want any input from outsiders. And here I thought we had all the answers. : )
Dear Daffy Duck (aka Darren Draper) – it’s such a hard issue and their key concerns are to make sure everyone is protected against all risks. What policies/guidelines exist in your district for use of blogging with students.
Our district doesn’t have specific policies regarding various forms of Internet activity. Rather, all Internet activity is addressed in general. The best explanation of our policies can be found on a post I recently wrote about Ustream (Jethro Jones and his experiences) found here. Blogging with students would fall under the same guidelines.
@DD if the push came to the crunch I don’t believe that your District policies would cover it because unfortunately Departments see a distinction between District and school web sites, and web 2.0 activities. It’s a bit like it okay to put photos on a School website which potentially identifies where the school is located and their name but not on blogs.
Trouble is none of us want to rock the boat so instead let it go. We need to stop letting it go 🙂
Australia is divided into 7 states. Victoria rests alongside SA, yet, the education department in Vic through its subdivisions, Student Learning Programs Division and the Education Channel, has so far been fully supportive of students blogging and working on collaborative projects in this state. An active and keen interest has been taken and indeed, we are starting online professional development, using elluminate, next week, to help other teachers and other schools get started. I will have a think about the support I can offer Al through our experiences and comment appropriately on his blog and are rather intrigued by the two different approaches.
Further, to my above comment, another fact that intrigues me is the ready availability of google earth/ maps, phone book indexes, interent searches etc which could bring up far more private information that could have wider reaching safety issues. From a personal experience, the use of avatars and lack of phone numbers, specific addresses and surnames should ensure these students are as safe as any ‘ordinary’ teacher and classroom can make them.
From my experience in a Queensland school, we have to stay within the parameters of the The Learning Place an online environment set up by the Dept of Ed and Training for Education Queensland staff (state schools only). It has a blog within it that can be used, but we can’t use anything outside that. It is all password protected, outsiders can’t come in, and we can’t display anything to anyone outside EQ.
Different rules for different States.
@Anne (Murcha) I think it is beyond all of us that each State/Territory has it’s own policies and guidelines; with so much variation in the level of support for teachers and how many sites are blocked. Would be good if PD was being conducted in your State that teachers from other areas of Australia were invited to join in? That way everyone could benefit.
@Marie My understanding in Queensland for both schools and TAFE is the it’s all controlled by a central body. I think it’s a shame that innovation is being constrained by regulations. I was on the Firewall and Broadband project latest that had ICT manager from Queensland on the community – wonder if worth getting the manager of the project to talk with them?