Last week I had a spike in my online teaching and learning curve. It started with my foray into creating my own YouTube channel when I figured out that I needed a virtual space to host my video files if I wanted to share them on my blog. Up until that point, I had no idea that I needed an online storage space for my video work and thought I could share directly from my computer. I choose YouTube because it was the most familiar to me and I created my first channel where I uploaded and then linked my Screen-Cast-O-Matic video. I felt pretty satisfied that I had achieved this skill – the ability to share a self-produced screen-sharing video and share it in a blog with my colleagues, and moved on to other things.
It wasn’t until after I posted and shared my learning from that assignment, earlier this week, that I began to think about the privacy of my students, the security of my school LMS, and potential breach of the law by posting last week’s video (never mind the Thinglink that wouldn’t share… this is what truly got me thinking) in my blog. FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) “is a law applicable to all educators using social media and cloud computing in BC public institutions and there are consequences for not following it” (Hengstler, 2014). It is very possible that the screencasting of our private Moodle LMS for VLearn, the images of my students that I was trying to share with Thinglink, and other things – still unknown to me, are breaches of FIPPA. The little niggling voice in the back of my mind got louder as the week unfolded, and gradually came out in discussions with a colleague who is in the final stages of completing her Masters in FIPPA related issues. I asked her about my use – using tools learned through my online course (and my PLC) to improve the quality of my teaching and my intention to make my assignments for this course relevant to my work context, and useful to support time efficiency and practice (which is greatly needed in all domains). I didn’t want to “do it twice” and decided that since I couldn’t share login privileges with all of you to show you what I am doing, didn’t feel right about making my Thinglink “public” because I don’t really understand the big implications of that, I would screencast it instead. Unbeknownst to me, we would be learning about screencasting this week as well, and dealing with these critical ideas. The timing really couldn’t be better for some of these uncomfortable conversations and learning.
Thinglink is the first Web 2.0 tool that has made me think deeply about the use of my students images and helped me understand the deeper implications of sharing such things in a public manner. Initially, I did not understand why the image I had created would not open in our blog. I checked and rechecked the privacy settings many times, but did not like the option that “others” could modify and/or edit and/or use the images I was sharing and needed to keep it private. I did not want that flexibility, because these are pictures of my students, and if these were my own children, I would not want others to be able to “play” with the images. Turns out, I learned in conversation with my colleague, that once shared, the images “belong” to the program and I no longer have “rights” over them. They can be used by any who subscribe to the site and modified however others see fit. This unsettled me completely.
Recognize, please, that at this point I do have verbal consent from all my families to be taking pictures, videos and manipulating/using them to enhance my teaching as well as sharing them with you to improve my teaching. I don’t think families really want images of their kids floating free on the web where anyone can access, and use them. I certainly don’t want this for my own kids, and suddenly have a much deeper understanding of a “digital footprint”, and the potential for teachers to accidentally impact it. Do these students want these pictures floating around out there as they grow older? Who is to say that my professional judgement of the photo shared is right? Suddenly I am quite nervous about the work I am doing and how I am trying to improve professionally with my technology skills, while staying within the law.
My colleague pointed me to a great resource to start my exploration of FIPPA and asked me to have a look at the “compliance continuum” – a concept created by Vancouver Island University professor, Julia Hengstler.
After reading the article written about this concept, I would have to put myself between the Ignorance and the Knowledgeable Non-Compliance categories. In some sense I have no idea of the implications of using the Web 2.0 tools with my students because they are still so new to me and them and we are experimenting with “fire”. I find the ease of use of so many of these tools amazing, but also frightening – case in point, my 12-year-old son who has his own private YouTube channel to upload videos for his grade seven classroom work that I was unaware of until recently. What else is his viewing and sharing? Do we understand the lasting effects of our work when we create a space in the cloud? Am I limiting him and my students when I resist, or shy away from exploring and experimenting with these tools? I feel like the conversation and thinking could easily get tied into Gardner Campbell’s discussion of 3 Recursive Practices (2009) – the process we are currently experiencing, however I have gone on a bit with the privacy issue and don’t really want to expand more on my thinking at this point. Needless to say, I am “being both a participant and a producer” of the cyber infrastructure and I think I need more time and experience before I get my students too involved.
As I become more knowledgeable, through my studies and work experiences, I’m learning that there are things that I should and should not be doing online with my students. You need to be 13 to have a YouTube account. My son does not agree, but that still does not change the law. I should have a written consent form, signed by the parents of my students, in order to use images and video that I have of them in an online way. Apparently our district still does not have something like this in place, but it did not take an administrator to tell me that posting those photos on Thinglink was not likely compliant, but I did it anyway – Knowledgeable Non-Compliance because I “ have no idea how to effectively meet the requirements” (2014). I think that as I move forward with Campbell’s notion of being a “system administrator” online – narrating (sharing process and seeking advice), curating (organizational skills are certainly lacking here for me) and sharing (learning one project at a time) I will get better but that in the meantime, I must remember to stay mindful of the privacy of my students and program and make sure that what I’m doing is within the law.
A quick aside – I’m wondering if, given parental consent, it’s okay to share on the secure TRU Moodle platform. At this point my things are on my WordPress blog, which again, I need confirmation, is not secure so perhaps I should take my posts down and share in some other way. Advise about what to do is very much wanted. Thanks for your time! Mine is truly limited and I’m really working to be as efficient and effective in both my roles as online teacher/learner as possible.
Campbell, W. (2009, September 4). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure (Web log post). Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Hengstler, J. (2014, April 24). The Compliance Continuum: FIPPA & BC Public Educators (Web log post). Retrieved from https://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/the-compliance-continuum-fippa-bc-public-educators/