But not too much!
This semester, I’m teaching media for the first time. To say that I love it would be an understatement. I am indebted to my friend Andrew for his wonderful lesson plans. To say that he loves this course would also be an understatement. I’m also working collaboratively with Jamie Weir, a fantastic and innovative teacher in Listowel,Ontario. While our courses are not identical, we are flexible and I liken the our collaboration to jazz improvisation. The coolest part about our collaboration is that our students are members of a ning and a wiki where they are able to connect and share ideas.
And now to get to the subject of this post: Anonymity. In order to participate on the ning, students need to display the same level of respect and civility that we require them to display in class. Now, I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far so good. In fact, when I read the comments students write on each others’ blogs, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that they are not just civil and polite, but kind and friendly. I know that there is a common belief that the anonymity (or false sense of anonymity) provided by the internet promotes bullying and other types of antisocial behaviour. All you have to do is check out a youtube post or an online version of a newspaper article to see that.
On the other hand, a little anonymity can be a good thing because while students know that their comments are being tracked by their teachers, they also seem to be more willing to take positive risks that they may not take face to face. See the exchange below between a student in my class and students in Ms. Weir’s class (I’ve blanked out last names and faces).
It’s funny to me that they’re discussing (among other things) the idea that technology creates a barrier to connections and yet without technology, they’d likely have never had this discussion.That seems like a nice note to end on.
Looking for a little help from my PLN on this one before my frustration reaches a fever pitch.
I am not a techie. I’m aware. I have only the vaguest understanding of how computers and wireless networks …. well…. work. But I do know this: It is a darn shame–nay an embarrassment–to have a wireless network installed in a school for the specific purpose of enabling students access to the internet that students can’t access. Please imagine, if you will, the sad student holding her ipod touch aloft and looking longingly at the wireless router hanging above her head. Cue strings.
So we have a wireless network installed in the school. Its purpose is student access. But students are not allowed to access it.
I asked our CSA why and he said that it’s not secure enough. A student could, in his words, find a way to hack a teacher password and then they’d have access to EVERYTHING! (Which makes me wonder what dangerous and exciting things I have access to! Evil laughter….)
Ms. Barker: (showing off stylish shoes and batting eyelashes) But… couldn’t they do that on one of the computers in the library lab?
Mr.CSA: Yes, but they’re supposed to be supervised in there.
Ms.Barker: Oh…. (pout)
Mr. CSA: (blink. blink)
Ms. Barker. Okay then. (pout has no effect. Must be losing my touch now that I’m 31) But, um what about other schools with wireless networks for students?
Mr. CSA: We’re the only school that has one.
Ms.Barker: In our board?
Mr. CSA: Yes. We’re the only one.
Ms. Barker: Well, what about other boards?
Mr. CSA: I don’t know.
So, I put it to you, my PLN. Do you know of any schools that have wireless networks for students? How do they deal with this concern? How can I convince my principal (who is new to the school as of Monday and therefore has a ton on her plate) and my CSA to make this happen for our students. It kills me that we have this wireless network installed and the kids can’t use it!