Online Safety and Cyberbullying

Here it is Sunday night and it just occurred to me that I really should be working on the Harambee Library Wiki. I need to make pages for the 5th grade teachers and link the student pages. It’s not hard but takes time and I spent most of the weekend working on grading, lesson plans, and flipcharts. Working on the student wiki is not something I have time to do during school hours.

The students are enjoying the wiki and are getting ready for the next level. A couple of them have accidentally sent brief messages to all the other members of the wiki. I explained to them that if they were working as a group on a project this ability could be important. However, in this case each one of them is working independently on their own page so there should be no need to send messages. They might want to make comments and I needed to prepare them for that step.

To do so I first showed them the short video, Bulletin Board. The quality of this one is not as good as I would like but it gets the message across. We had some discussions earlier about posting pictures and I thought we should talk about the fact that once you’ve posted something online you can’t take it back. Many of them have facebook accounts, whether they’re old enough or not. In some cases it is a legitimate way for them to stay in touch with family in other parts of the world.

In order to make comments safe for everyone I showed them two more videos. The one called Talent Show made them quite uncomfortable and they were eager to comment on what they saw.

 

I also showed them another short video called Re: Cry of the Dolphins. The original video was a poem that received some scathing comments and this video is the author’s response. We had some issues with the first class that saw this one but they asked to see it again and it ran much better the second time. Once again students were surprised that others were willing to say such cruel things. They were also intrigued by the actions in the film, where the author reaches out of the screen to take the first comment off the board. This video is especially powerful since it was a real-life story.

Each class made a list of questions to ask themselves before posting and tips to remember before making comments. I don’t know how many students will make comments on other wiki pages but I think they will think before they post. Of course, I monitor all activity on the wiki and can take problem students off but I don’t think that will be necessary after these videos and discussions.

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