I want to use collaborative technology with students but… my students might misbehave online (part 4 of 4)

In a recent post, I pointed to places within the Common Core (CCSS) that beg for teachers to design activities that integrate collaborative technology, especially using the Internet, into lessons for students as early as 6th grade.

This is the last of four blog posts addressing a few of the most common reasons teachers cite as to why connected classrooms are a good idea in theory, but not something they can implement:

Impediment #4:

My students won’t behave appropriately online.

It is possible that in your context, this is absolutely the case.  I, however, have never found this to be true, especially when I employ a few tactics at the beginning of the venture online.

  • Point out the various data collection tools you intend to use in whatever software you’re using.  (And if you’re not using data collection tools, find new software.)  The “view revision history” features in Google Drive and Wikispaces and my demonstrating that any one of us could simply restore to any point at any time meant I dealt with absolutely no digital saboteurs or code of conduct violations.  Showing students the data I get when they read in Subtext means they know I have digital evidence to support my claim that they didn’t read the chapter.
  • Remind students that their behavior outside of school walls is enforceable by the school’s code of conduct in certain situations.  Athletes and musicians and anyone who travels representing the school knows this already.  Under DASA, students now also know that their Twitter drama, if it leads to in-school drama, is enforceable under the school’s anti-bullying rules.  I’ve never found this to be a tough sell to students, but do be able to point directly to the line in the code of conduct and/or to precedent in school law.
  • Be ready to explain to students how you’d respond, in general terms as per the code of conduct, if a variety of issues arise.  What if someone deletes my work?  and What if someone posts something inappropriate? are the two questions I’d anticipate and have answers for.  Something like, Well, deleting someone’s work seems like a disruption of the academic environment to me, since our class is online, so I’d probably write him or her up for that after I restored the content. or Well, the District’s Terms of Use is the thing you click to agree to each time you log on, so posting inappropriate content would mean you violate that, which I think means you lose computer privileges, making this class a whole lot harder…I’d read it next time I log on more carefully to see what else could happen… 

Being able to glibly cite these district policies indicates to your students a few things:That you know them, that you’ve used them, and that the consequences do not stem from you, an important distinction when being firm but retaining rapport.


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