La morale de la morale

This week’s topic centers on the ethical, legal, and moral ramifications of using technology in the classroom. I think this is a very important topic as it can be seen as one of the main reasons people hesitate to incorporate more technology into their teaching practices. Teachers, including myself, are afraid of what consequences might arise from using online platforms with their students.

All of the students in my building have their own email accounts through the school division. While helping a grade 5 student navigate her email the other day, I noticed that she had messages from TikTok and Snapchat – she had used her school email account to sign up for these apps, likely because she doesn’t have her own private email account yet. Students use their school accounts to avoid asking parents for theirs because they know they are not allowed to use those apps at their age. Is it my duty to tell her parents? Did I invade her privacy by looking at her personal email account? Am I supposed to know the answers to these questions? If so, who’s responsibility was it to teach me?

The article Ethical Issues with Using Technology in the Classroom claims that it is “helpful for teachers to recognize these types of situations and to discuss them with other educators to develop awareness of new ethical issues” (para. 12). Is this really enough though? There could be legal ramifications to some of these situations and teachers have a right to be provided with PD to help them navigate this.

Besides these issues, I often ask myself how I could incorporate the apps my students use regularly into the classroom. I even wrote a paper claiming that using apps like TikTok and Instagram in the classroom could significantly help with a student retention issue we have with older students at our school. I have a hard time seeing though, how this would work. The accounts students have with these apps are private; I can’t see them wanting to post school-related material to their personal pages, nor do I think I should have the right to view things they have posted outside of school. This could become a nightmare when navigating what is appropriate to view in school and what isn’t. Henderson, Auld, and Johnson (2014) claim that “Teachers should unpack whether it is ethical to participate in, or expect access to their students’ identities that they use in their social media as part of their learning process in the classroom” (p.3). If I were to use these apps in my classroom, I would be asking my students to create separate accounts, probably using their school email. Which brings me back to my questions in the last paragraph.

For me, it still all comes back to teacher training; I feel like we are going into this blind. Why aren’t we being provided with more guidance?

6 thoughts on “La morale de la morale

  1. Thanks for the post Leah! The question that you raise at the end is so important. There are times when I feel like the I am a part of the Apollo missions – a member of this early wave of change and exploration but with loose direction and decisions being based on prior activities. Really, that is what learning is though, right? Nonetheless, trying to keep up with technology and digital literacy is aiming at a moving target. I am sure educators felt the same way about computers becoming a part of their classroom/pedagogy/learning experiences back in the 1990s!

  2. You hit it right on! Something our division has done is disabled the email feature altogether. This way students if they choose to use their school emails they can never authenticate anything because there is no email. I think students have not had the kind of conversations such as do not use your school email for accessing anything other than school related work; although I bet they signed something agreeing to it (which they never really read). We cannot as teachers begin to figure out all the things that are going to go wrong with using technology in the classroom and prevent it on our own. We 100% need guidance and training but who is going to do it? How would it be rolled out? What content is going to be covered? Then how in the world are we going to retain in all? I think of Duston and Kelly’s first podcast when I learned about other keyboard shortcuts when Ss can close windows and reopen recently closed tabs so quickly that it makes catching them even harder. It becomes overwhelming doesn’t it and to think it is only going to continue to grow, we need to get a handle on it now so that we are protected as teachers.

  3. I agree that there are ramifications of using more online platforms in a classroom. Young children are not aware of consequences of using these platforms in an inappropriate way. Its scary that children use school’s email to create their social media account.
    My question is what you do if you find that children are not understanding the implications of ethical issues in technology as we can not invade their privacy. I think school should give permission to teachers to keep an eye on children’s activity if their account is created by using school’s email address.

  4. I certainly agree with your post, Leah! I can relate completely. There is a lot of uncharted territory for educators, in terms of not being educated themselves in Digital Literacy. And as fast as technology changes, are schools even able to keep up?

  5. The question you posed at the end is a really good one. On more than one occasion, I have thought to myself that the university really didn’t prepare me for the vocational world. I learned a lot of different theories of education, and what theorists thought what, but I learned almost nothing about setting up a classroom, classroom management, assessment, and more. There were a lot of things that I wish I was better prepared for, and still, after all of the years am wondering why things haven’t changed much or if at all.

  6. You’re right Leah, students don’t want to post school-related stuff to their social media accounts but maybe this new initiative would have students not only have their real instagram, their fake instagram, their troll instagram, and now their school instagram??? Exchange insta for snap, tiktok, what have you. I sure as heck dont want to come across a post i shouldnt see as a teacher!

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