Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “digital etiquette”

Trusting that students will say something nice

The school that my children attend prides itself on its community “feel” and the character of its students.  On the whole I agree.

Happy students from another school.

      Happy students from another school

A couple of the most telling examples from over the years:

  • The applause that went on and on and on and on for the senior student who was given an award for having achieved despite difficult circumstances.  This student’s father had died during his senior year.
  •  The guest’s at my son’s 16th birthday party, sitting around a fire pit and singing.  A 16th birthday party could have been a lot worse…
  • The time I chanced upon a group of students on campus at the end of an open day.  Most visitors had left.  One of the students had his back to me and didn’t know I was nearing the group on my way out.  He was describing something which had happened and his description included some swearing. I don’t think the students recognised me as a current parent of the school and his comments were intended for his peers’ ears only.  The students who could see me gave him meaningful looks and he turned in some confusion and noticed me and realised that I had heard his words.  Maybe I should have been offended.  I don’t enjoy listening to “f words” but what had the most impact on me was the look on his face which clearly showed his disappointment in himself.  If he had said it in words, I don’t think he could have any more clearly expressed the sense that he had let down himself, his peers and his school.

I do understand why schools ban students from discussing or posting about school happenings on social media.  They fear for their reputations if a bad impression is given and we all know that a social media post can have a wide reach.

The trouble is that the good things happening often go unnoticed for fear of the bad things that might get too much notice.

Yesterday my daughter, along with her classmates, worked to put together birthing kits.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

She told me that she thought it was possibly the “coolest thing she had ever done”.  She was touched by having been able to do something which would help someone so directly.  I’m sure some of her friends felt the same.  Wouldn’t it have been cool if she could have snapchatted or Facebooked it.

The students’ characters, the school’s values and the cause they’re working for would all have got some great publicity.

If we teach digital citizenship, can we trust our students to say positive things?

Dig Cit 2





Dig cit

Photo credits:

Prinnie Stevens, Mahalia Barnes


Teach children to be trustworthy

Two articles about digital citizenship caught my attention today.

The first was on the Mindshift blog and asked how schools and parents should be involved in kids’ online lives.

The author, Matt Levinson, acknowledges the blurred lines between home and school information when that information is online.  He asks whether schools should be involved in what students do online when they are not at school and concludes that there is enough overlap between the school and home online worlds that it is reasonable for schools to involve themselves.

His focus in that post is on open social media sites.

He advises that instead of instilling a stranger-danger-type fear into children, schools and parents should encourage children to ask themselves some questions about what sort of contact with strangers is appropriate and what sort of response to make if contacted online by a stranger.

What can we do to stop cyber-bullying?

What can we do to stop cyber-bullying?

The second article came from the Sunday Mail.  Cyber bullies turn web into the superhighway to hell by Kylie Lang explores three disturbing cases of teenage suicide after cyber-bullying.

Ms Lang concludes that there is valuable advice to be found on protecting children through the use of filters and monitoring but asks whether there is a bigger question that we are not asking…

doesn’t our children’s use of technology also come down to how they are taught in the first place to respect themselves and others?

Ms Lang goes on:

Social media might be a new form of communication but the old rules apply: treat others as you’d like to be treated; if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t say it at all.

The best way to deal with a bully is to ignore them, and if you can’t, report them.

Cyber-bullying expert Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell, of Queensland University of Technology, says it is essential for teachers, parents and students to “create a culture of reporting”.

In other words, let’s teach them to be good digital citizens.

We can’t assume that children will act in a trustworthy and respectful way if we haven’t taught them how to do so.

photo credit: <a href=””>Dia™</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Trusting each other while playing Minecraft

“Jake killed my chickens and villagers”.

“He blew up my house”.

These are some of the recent complaints I’ve heard about Jake’s actions on our class Minecraft server.  Since we started using the server, there has been a stream of griefing from Jake (for the uninitiated, that’s gamer-speak for destroying or damaging).

House on fire - evidence of griefing.

House on fire – evidence of griefing.

Jake is a nice kid, just a bit immature and impulsive.

I had a real-life chat to him about the griefing yesterday and drew an analogy between Minecraft creations and the robots the children made in class last term out of cardboard, polystyrene and bits and pieces.

Many children were very proud of their robots and Jake looked horrified when I asked him whether he would have deliberately damaged someone else’s robot.  Yet somehow he sees online creations as different from real world creations.

What Jake also doesn’t realise (because he’s only 10) is that his online interactions form his online reputation and his online reputation could eventually affect his real world reputation.

Through his griefing, he’s demonstrating that he can’t be trusted to collaborate on the server.

My son who is close in age to my class and helps me run the server started to form an opinion of Jake as a nasty person.  He’s never met Jake in person, just onIine.

A Minecraft server is not very high-stakes but it’s an example of a situation where children need to understand and practise digital citizenship skills such as etiquette, respect and collaboration.

I hope this learning experience is helping Jake to understand what a good citizen does and doesn’t do.

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