Our Class Web site…

Is… in a bit of flux, shall we say. I’m attempting to get the video content and photos re-uploaded somehow, but as of right now, I can’t post any photos or classwork related to my classroom or students unless it’s on the district server. I’m posting this because I will be out of the classroom until Thursday and I want families to know what’s been going on lately. My intent is not to be a rabble-rouser or any such thing.

So posting to the district server would not be a big deal if I were able to post image-and-video-heavy content in a manner that required a reasonable amount of time and effort. I would switch over to the district’s uploading service immediately. However, my understanding is that there is currently no way to use a platform similar to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Instead, posting video or photo content on the district server requires that I post items in a text-heavy forum style, which is certainly not an accessible tool for my third graders at this point. It’s also only accessible by password, which adds an extra hurdle for my students, as well as obviously quashing any interaction between our class and other classes who come across our site. Plus, there’d be an increased amount of time or effort in making this platform usable by my students, which I don’t believe I have.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 to say the least, and I’m trying to figure out how to handle things in a diplomatic manner not just for myself, but for other tech-savvy teachers in Federal Way.

I mean, I certainly can’t be the only district staff member to upload student-related content to an appropriate forum, as I was under the impression that our district Internet release form applied to teacher postings even if they weren’t on the district server. I say “appropriate forum” because I’ve been completely open with my site — I’m not making shady, opinionated comments about my students on a MySpace page or anything similar.

Every action I have ever taken on this blog has been done while taking into consideration every possible safety-related issue. I use only first names. I had my students fill out district-mandated Internet AND media release forms.

What if, for example, my students were featured in a KING5 TV story? And this story was posted to the KING5 Web site. Would I be able to link to this story on this Web site? Would there be a difference between if I linked to the video story and if I embedded the story on my Web site? What if I posted my video content to TeacherTube instead of YouTube? What if one of my students uploaded a picture to their family’s blog and I linked to that personal blog? Would there be a difference in that situation? What about The Sisters, who use student work and photos from a Federal Way school on their personal Web site? Is it different because theirs is a professional Web site? Is anyone thinking about this?

I’m very interested in other districts’ media / student work policies, so feel free to link me to them in the comments.

…………

We had our championship track meet yesterday, but since I can’t show you any of the great pictures I took of our hardworking athletes, here is a photo of my sunburn.

First sunburn of the year: Track Sunburn

First sunburn of the year: Track Sunburn

The one person in this whole mess who deserves mad props is Hannah Pena, one of the district’s main technology point people. She’s not the one who designed the school board’s policies, and she has been nothing but kind and helpful in guiding me through the teeth-gnashing amounts of red tape. Our principal, Jenna Brown, has been great as well. She could have totally flipped out on me about having a Web site that was OUT OF COMPLIANCE, but she calmly worked with me so we could get everything taken care of.

I feel like I need to point out that I don’t want this to seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill fighting for my tiny Web site that has about 36 viewers on a great day. I am very worried that this has the potential to turn into a larger problem as more and more teachers utilize technology more intimately in their classrooms. I really don’t want Federal Way caught with egg on its face for well-meaning, protective policies like it has in the past.

I also don’t want to slam our superintendent, Tom Murphy. He helped ensure that Federal Way is in a MUCH better place than most of the districts in the Puget Sound, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the extraordinary lengths he has gone to for our elementary educators (and AmeriCorps members).

Finally, I received this package in the mail the day I found out I was OUT OF COMPLIANCE:

Business cards, featuring a disappointing reminder of our district's Internet policy

Business cards, featuring a disappointing reminder of our district's Internet policy

Sad. I am grateful I can keep this site up, but I’m terribly disappointed I won’t be able to dialogue with other teachers and students about the high-quality, standards-based work we’re doing.

I’m interested in your thoughts, but I am NOT interested in angry, unproductive comments. Those will be deleted as I ALWAYS moderate any comments uploaded to my page. I’m looking for a way to help the district modify its outlook on Web content so that students can utilize the great opportunities available to them, yet still be fully protected from the few creepy people who do exist. I value your opinions.

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One thought on “Our Class Web site…

  1. Pingback: Reflections on 2008-09 « Ms. Houghton’s Class

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