March 20, 2010 by readlisaread
Recently we had a discussion in my district about Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. Most Middle/Secondary schools block most of the social networking sites, so really we are talking about things like Blogs, Wikis, photo-management, Google Docs. The issue is, according to the Government restrictions in the Freedom of Information/Privacy act, we may not store any student-generated work on “foreign” servers. It’s not just obvious things–like identifiable photos and full names–it’s ANY digital information students have generated. At first thought, this didn’t seem so bad….but as you drill down through the layers, the insidiousness of this law has impact on all levels.
Adult learners are in a different category– they have to waive their rights under this legislation to use most of the learning platforms and course design. No such waiver exists for kids. If they are using, say, Google Docs, we are to assume that their parents have given them permission. We, as educators, however, cannot assign a project that requires the use of that tool.
So, because I am both a Mommy and an educator, I pondered the ramifications. And guess what? At the end of the day, it all comes back to Accountability. “Well, the District can’t take any responsibility for….”. It has nothing to do with “Thou shan’t”, it’s about “We aren’t wearing it if a parent complains, because we TOLD you”.
Proof? When I realized, with a sinking sensation, that the Online editor my Yearbook publisher uses is housed in the U.S. I asked the Prince of IT about that (knowing that I wasn’t the only person in the district who used that sort of a system). He looked alarmed for a sec (knowing that the yearbook info was every picture, name, nick name, sport and cultural event in the school), then said: “Well, as long as the company can GUARANTEE that no information is ever leaked, shared, lost or stolen, there is no problem”.
Oh……I see……so as long as there is Someone Else to take the blame when an Angry Parent shows up at the Superintendent’s door, then we’ve covered all we need to know about FOIPA.