In Perpetual Fear of Sue Sue Sue what do we Do Do Do? Acceptable Use and Real Classrooms

I've been getting 3-4 e-mails a day about acceptable use policies and came across this incredible post by blogger Jeff Mason.

Jeff poignantly writes:

“The Jekyll and Hyde nature of school acceptable use policies is tolerated by many, ignored by most. We are willing to suffer the monster at the perceived benefits of the good doctor.”


There are too many projects shut down midstream and too many things are being blocked. (See the examples in this blog post.)

What do we do with 100% legal requirements when we're lucky to get 85% in the classroom? We know how rare (100%) hundreds are in the classroom, however the legal professionals (and our administrators) require that we are 100% compliant and 100% perfect.

There is a complete disconnect between the classroom and its nature and the unflinching perfection demanded by the laws of our nation (and our parents.)

If we are perpetual fear of sue sue sue, what can we do do do in the classroom?

I'm not advocating the breaking of laws, however, we have got to consider how to comply and be practical.

For example, we blog and wiki publicly and I check as best I can all of the images my students post and require that they are creative commons non-attribution noncommercial , however, I've leaned towards creativecommons noncommercial or creative commons and require everyone to cite the source… but what happens when they don't?

I don't want an A!
What happens when the student is content with a 70 and doesn't comply with the requirement? We as teachers have to 100% comply even if the student doesn't.

Does the teacher fix it? Does the teacher remove it? What if the student lies, are we required to fact check and image check? Do we just forget doing anything on the Internet because the problems are too much! (Many are.)

I don't have the answers, but I do have the questions.

I am an advocate the highest ethics and behavior in the classroom.

However, we're in a black and white issue in a gray classroom.

On the one hand we have to comply 100% with the laws, on the other hand we have a classroom to run where students rarely make 100 and have inherent flaws in their work.

If they all made 100 every time, we'd be teaching what they already know, after all.

So, we need a way to TEACH and COMPLY in a classroom where perfection is the EXCEPTION and also the REQUIREMENT.

Some answers that could help!

  1. I think the answer lies in a couple of things… vendors awareness of these issues and the providing of social networks, wikis, blogs with sharable text-related clip art along with our textbook subscriptions (since we'll be using e-books soon enough anyway.) IT is about the NETWORK, textbook companies. THE NETWORK!
  2. More user friendly and accurate creative commons searching along with citation generating plug ins for our firefox (or any) web browsers.
  3. Some sort of image/ link checking program for classrooms to run on their websites. This would be amazing. Automate it, check and and e-mail it to me. A for wikis and blogs.
  4. Automated citation building wikis and blogs that extract the links from the blog or wiki page and automatically post the citations in the proper format at the bottom of the page.
  5. Standards for citations on web pages and photographs to make it happen (through the use of hidden META tags or something of the nature — it will take this to make #3 and #4 happen.)
  6. We promote filters that allow Ad Hoc Content Filtration. (I still believe this!)
  7. The edublogosphere to discuss what would help these problems and actively promote change.

There is a great potential here and a looming gap between practicum and legalese. One that MUST be plugged in order to take our schools to where they have got to go.

Yes, we have legal requirements that some think are not worth mounting.

However, we have a bigger issue ahead of us.

WE have an increasingly global society. As those in Michigan are finding, the automotive manufacturing plants are going overseas with the automaker, Ford Motor Company expanding in India and downsizing in the US.

The jobs requiring strong backs and repetition are running out of the US faster than a greased pig running from a bunch of squealing preteens!

We must learn to make the money with our minds… minds that must be connected, fingertips that must be nimble, and creativity that must ooze out of our pores like the sweat from my son playing JV ball last night.

We must change. While we cannot change the laws (people have a right to their work after all,) we can create and advocate more tools that facilitate easier compliance with those laws.

We must be ethical, we must be practical and we MUST do the right thing by the generation gracing the doors of our classroom.

We have work to do. The nature of lawyers is to say NO. The nature of administrators is to say NO. The nature of a good teacher is to advocate for her/his students.

We must meet in the middle where the level heads meet and come up with solutions that work for us all.

It is about student learning and student success.

It is about our future as a nation. It is about the future of any nation.

Advocate change. Be involved. Speak out. Comment. Use your voice… it is more important than ever.

These problems don't fix themselves. Perhaps you are here for such a time as this?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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