This is the way my students feel, too.

Posted: January 31, 2007 in Reflection

I was reading Konrad Glogowski’s blog, blog of proximal development , as I do whenever he posts, but today I thought he was writing about my students, not his. He describes his students’ concerns that someone from outside their school would be able to find their blogs, podcasts, and wiki. He says

They seemed very relieved when I explained that, due to the school’s
privacy policies, the site is password protected and that no outsiders
will be able to access their work

This is exactly the kind of concern my students have. Their work will, indeed, be available to anyone who is interested enough to stop by. And their work will, indeed be available to anyone who is interested enough to stop by. I have taken the precaution this time to have them blog at eslblogs.org because it is a little more protected, and I don’t think they will be judged as much by the quality of their writing there. I trust that people who stop by and look at their work will be courteous, at least. Since my students are adults, the situation is quite different from Konrad’s. But their concerns are amazingly similar.

Konrad says

What caused it? Why are they so preoccupied with privacy? Where are all these questions coming from?

My guess is that a lot of it has filtered down to them from the media or from their parents. After all, they have probably heard many stories about people their age being targeted by online predators.

In the case of my students, it is defeinitely the media, but it is also our institution. We are not on the cutting edge technologically, by any means, and there is a certain distrust of and disdain for the Internet. At best, it is considered a waste of time. So I feel I have to tread lightly here.

I will continue to get my students “out there” because I think it is important, but I won’t be using a lot of the more social sites to do it. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with those sites — just that I don’t think they will work in my situtation.

I think that each of us has to make informed decisions based on out own students and our own situations. We should not blindly adopt or blindly reject. There are plenty of options out there; we can all surely find something that will work for us.

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Comments
  1. Nancy,

    I’m glad I’m not the only one but, at the same time, I know how difficult it is when your enthusiasm for meaningful use of technology in the classroom is tempered by negative comments.

    I think your statement about finding the right balance makes a lot of sense. As educators, me need to make informed decisions. Forcing students to use certain tools just because we believe that they are effective is not going to produce an environment that is conducive to learning. In fact, I think it’s irresponsible to embrace tools just because we like them without any regard for the views and opinions of our students.

    That’s why I suggest in my entry that students who are not a hundred percent sure about having a blog or contributing to a wiki need time to experience how this kind of social engagement in a community of learners can benefit them. Once they do experience the sense of connectedness and begin to co-construct knowledge, once they begin to feel empowered by the connections they can make, they are more likely to adopt social tools and use them in a meaningful fashion.

    So, what I’ve learned from my experience is that I need to be patient and let the students dictate the pace at which they want to immerse themselves in this kind of environment. After all, if we are to be a community, I cannot begin by imposing rules. I cannot begin by disregarding the voices of my students – the very people who will build the community.

  2. Berta says:

    Hi Nancy, I completely agree with you and thank you for the phrase “We should not blindly adopt nor blindly reject” that is the core of it. As with any course material or teaching theory or methodology, in the end one needs to be eclectic and adapt to the needs and characteristics of one´s students.
    Thanks for sharing, cheers, Berta

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