It is very important to take into account digital safety when setting up a blog site in your classroom.
These questions might be useful to use with your students:
- What will my friends or family think about me after they read (or see) this post?
- Could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?
- Who is going to look at this, and how are they going to interpret my words?
- Is this inappropriate, immature or bullying?
- Could I hurt someone else’s feelings with this post?
- Would I say this to the person’s face?
- What could be the consequences of this post?
- Do I have a good reason/purpose to do this?
- Is this something I want everyone to see?
Safety is more than just not publishing student pictures without permission or permitting students from viewing obscene material. Safety is now about responsibility, appropriateness, and common sense as well.
One of the hardest balances to find is how to balance the safety of the child with the benefits that come with students taking ownership for their work.
Questions to work through when setting up your blog:
- Who is the audience?
- How clearly will we identify the student? (usually take a middle ground of just using first names)
- Ways to vet people who are allowed in the process. (e.g. who can leave comments on a blog? What do we do about unwanted/anonymous comments etc.?)
There are numerous websites that address the issue of digital/internet safety. You might find some of the following sites helpful:
http://www.netsafe.org.nz/ - This NZ website has a portal for the education sector. In it are resources for schools, parents and pupils (including interactive games that students can play).
Most schools will also have a digital safety policy - make sure you are familiar with this and that you involve parents in the process to ensure that their concerns are heard and addressed. As an example, here is the link to Fendalton School's digital safety policy:
I also came across a very interesting article: 'Internet Safety: Issues For New Zealand Primary Schools' by John Hope (Auckland University). This article gives a very good overview of the current context of ICT usage in NZ Primary Schools and issues that need to be addressed.