Yesterday I was pleased to see that an ex-P7 student had deal with an incident of email bullying in a textbook manner. Of course, there’s no way to prove that the student’s response was as a direct result of internet safety training in school, but it was encouraging none the less.
A parent had called about some abusive emails his child had been receiving from a classmate. After investigation, with the parent’s permission I was able to dig out the evidence, and forward the emails to the school involved for follow-up. It was clear that the problem had extended beyond school email and had included use of text messaging.
What was really encouraging, though, was the discovery that the child had not only raised the issue with his or her parents, but had also:
- responded calmly to the abusive emails, and not made things worse
- sent an email to the class teacher to let her know
The end result of the student’s commendable action is that positive action is now under way to resolve the situation despite it being a month or so until school resumes.
The case also highlighted for me a potential new issue for school internet safety arrangements. As new technologies facilitate out-of-school communication, do we need more joined-up arrangements to provide reliable cover of internet safety issues during holiday periods?
The Bad Behavior system, which checks the source address of comments against known blacklists, has been upgraded to Version 2.0.11. This follows a problem last week with “false positives” which led to a number of eduBuzz bloggers finding themselves locked out of their own blogs for an hour or so. More details here.
Today’s eduBuzz Open Meeting provided as usual a rich source of ideas for next steps and feedback from a range of activities over the past month.
We were pleased to welcome Alison Hunton, a parent whose two daughters Alice and Ellie are already amongst our youngest bloggers.
Topics covered included:
- Internet skills for staff
As use of the internet becomes more embedded in school activities this is highlighting an ongoing need for training in some fairly basic web skills for staff. A useful resource for WordPress training is the Stuck With ICT site developed by Andrew Brown of LTS.
- Internet safety for parents
Ollie Bray reported on the internet safety session recently run for Musselburgh parents. This training, based on CEOP standards, is planned for roll-out to clusters.
There were a couple of reports of nuisance comment spam, and the possibility of adding a Captcha check was discussed.
A few points of feedback from the recent software upgrade arose, including the loss of the coloured text facility.
This week’s Times Education Supplement Scotland (Friday, April 6th 2007) includes a feature we’ve been awaiting with interest on the use of social software in schools. Sue Leonard, the author, set out to investigate recent events where public web sites had been used to post anonymous comments on teachers. As part of her research, she contacted East Lothian to hear how we were using these tools.
You can read a cut-down version of the article on the Times Ed site. It’s in two parts, and the on-line version provides about 3/4 of each:
- THE BAD – a discussion of problems arising from the use of a US-based site by students to make comments on teachers in Scottish schools. Perhaps inevitably, and despite inclusion of supportive arguments from the site’s founder, it paints a dark picture.
- THE GOOD – a review of Exc-el, based on interviews with Don Ledingham, Lynne Lewis and Barry Smith. In addition to the on-line text, there’s coverage in the full article of the Pencaitland Primary blog and Preston Lodge High School’s Active Learning Partnerships (ALPs) programme and the student learning logs.
I’d been a bit worried that the article could so easily have painted a negative picture. It’s a relief to find that Sue’s interviews with some of the Exc-el community have provided more than just an abstract sense of balance: they’ve provided a tangible example of an alternative, positive way to view, and use, social software. I hope that’s helpful to people making decisions elsewhere.
It does make me think, though, we’ve got a much stronger story to tell, though, than can be covered in just a couple of pages. Although we’re trying to share what we’re doing via blogs, for example, we know that – by their nature – they’re preaching to the converted. They also tend to focus on a short time period; what we’ve done today, or this week, rather than what we’ve achieved over 6 months or a year.
There’s a gap here. We need to find ways of making it easy for people new to Exc-el to quickly get their heads round not just what it’s all about, but to find stories about successful examples they can build on.
Today after-school I ran a 90-minute CPD session on creating dynamic school web sites using WordPress. Until I arrived, I was expecting around 5 people, and had prepared, just in case, for up to 10. In the event, there were 13 on the latest list, and everyone made it. There was great enthusiasm, and I went away convinced the group will be making full use of what they learned.
The course outline is here as a Word document: It covered: ECS371 Making Your School Website Dynamic – outline Continue reading “Making Your School Website Dynamic” is a popular course!
We’ve now a growing number of student blogs. These haven’t been given a high profile. Partly, this was to let them get established, and build up their confidence, before encouraging others to comment. Also, we wanted to be confident that we had appropriate arrangements in place for dealing with comments.
Because Craig and Fraser have been doing so well with their blogs (see previous post) we now want to let them start building an audience. That’s why they’ve now earned the first Student Blog links on the Exc-el Home Page.
What have we done about comments? These are often a source of concern. Ewan‘s experience from Musselburgh Grammar School’s blogs showed that problems are very unlikely, with only a handful of problem comments out of thousands posted.
Because these are the first Exc-el student blogs to have a public profile, we’ve added some additional monitoring. As well as automated protection against comment spam, we’ve arranged that a copy of every comment left will be automatically emailed to a member of staff at the school as soon as it is left. That teacher has full rights on each blog, and can moderate or delete any comments held for moderation. The flexibility of WordPress MU is proving valuable.