Global Teacher - WEB 3.0 Community and Research Project

Archive for March, 2008

Keeping students cybersafe!

Posted by murch on 28th March 2008

As we are pioneers in cyberspace, cybersafety is a concern that is being refined and evaluated all the time - trying to balance transparency with privacy, allowing students some freedom, yet protecting them and ensuring their safety at all times.

Students complete posts in classtime but many find it so enjoyable, they post at home keeping a running journal, adding multimedia and producing online digital portfolios.

Here is what we have done in our classrooms this year, in relation to cybersafety:-

  • Watched videos on cybersafety, consulted various online sites (see suggestions) and hold ongoing classroom discussions.
  •  Constantly reinforce the need for safety during class eg no surnames, no addresses/phone numbers and other personal details to be placed online.
  •  Students create their own avatar using MS Paint or use other avatar creating websites  This becomes their personal “photographic ID” for blogging purposes, voicethreads and other online sites. (See the image of a global voicethread below for some of the grade 3/4 avatars.)

avatars on voicethread

  • Parents sign permission forms agreeing to publish student work online , online photographs, on the condition that no names are attached and group photos to be used where possible.
  • A folder and checked lists are kept to enable us to ensure these conditions are adhered to.
  • A partnership with parents is essential, so an information evening with grades 4-6 parents was held early on in the year, outlining the pedagogy for the use of blogs and other web2.0 tools and outlining cybersafety issues. A “techno corner” article appears weekly in our school and community newsletter.
  • Parents are encouraged to ‘adopt’ a student who may not have the internet at home. This ensures all students may get comments even those whose parents do not have internet access. Again, there are many watchful ‘eyes’ (both parents, staff and community) on our students, to alert us to any impending problems or issues.
  • We have a great staff and many of them voluntarily read student posts and comment on them, including our principal. So students are aware that they are constantly being monitored.
  • I have joint administration rights with my students on their blogs, so comments and posts can be edited if need be and comments and incoming links moderated.
  • Jess McCulloch, our LOTE teacher, a techno savvy person and I are currently applying RSS feeds for each student’s blog to our google readers, so that we are alerted to any new posts that students put up.

Here are some further activities we will do:

Further parent info evenings or invite parents to  classes so they can see what their children are doing.
Add links on our blog sites outlining cybersafety protocol.
Produce a form for Students to sign in the presence of their parents alerting both parites to correct internet protocol.

Further interesting reading and links:-

10 digital rules

 Postcript: It is only when you hear of Al Upton and the possible consequences that it makes you even more aware of trying to keep our students safe and that wonderful tool of blogging intact and ongoing. However, we can never guarantee they will remain 100% safe, but maybe we can give them the skills to cope with the dangers and surprises that may lurk out there

I would alos like to add this comment from John Pearce a fellow Victorian teacher, who has been a real pioneer with younger students and blogging.

Hi Anne,

“Nice list and ideas. Another suggestion we have used is to include a page with a set of rules to all of the student based blogs we set up eg There is a copy of the rules in Word format at

On a slightly related tack we also asked our students to consider the issue of copyright by directing them to and then write a page on their blogs in response. Despite most students composing some reasonable responses to the task, many still were fast and loose with images. :(.”

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging, Welfare | No Comments »

Pedagogy to justify student blogs in Australia

Posted by murch on 18th March 2008

The majority of our students have set up their own blog space. A little risque as some of you might ask. After all some are only in years 4,5 and 6 and the even riskier end is year 9 and 10 teenagers. Well, so far so good.

Some have tried to put images on posts, to give their stamp of personality but this has led me to talk to them about public perception, cultural impact and plagarism. Most students have immediately complied and removed possible offensive material.

Cyber safety is constantly being addressed and talked about. Most have created their own avatars and are in the process of adding them to their blogs and their comments.

Much of the time it is student directed learning as they work out what they might need and the image they wish to project. eg Many started creating a personalized header image, using the panoramic option in irfanview.

Some have added posts for Chinese (mandarin Chinese is our LOTE). The principal and various members of staff have commented on the posts, and comments from overseas are starting to come in. (A clustr map widget exists in edublogs now.)

A meeting was held with grades 4-6 parents and part of that time was spent outlining our goals with student use of web2.0, including blogging. (See the slideshare below for the content). One parent commented from the floor that her 11 year old boy no longer wanted to play game……the staff who were present held their breath for the next comment……(as there had been rumblings as to the need for any technology at their age)……. but the next comment delighted us all…………..he only wants to blog now!!!!
Some are using it as journal entries about their daily acitivites with others adding any school work that they are proud of producing.Below is the presentation given to parents, using pedagogy to justify the use of web2.0 and predominantly blogging.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Blogging, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

20 reasons why students should blog

Posted by murch on 15th March 2008

Blogging is such powerful learning material and students should blog.

Why?………………………Here are just 20 reasons 

This post has been written as a draft for a few days, but I wish to publish it now, in support of @alupton and his wonderful minilegends. (They have been asked to remove their blog by their education department)

  1. It is FUN! Fun!….. I hear your sceptical exclamation!! However, it is wonderful when students think they are having so much fun, they forget that they are actually learning. One of my favourite blog comments is as follows: It’s great when kids get so caught up in things they forget they’re even learning… :)   by jodhiay                                                           
  2. authentic audience - no longer working for a teacherwho  checks and evalutes work but  a potential global audience.
  3. Suits all learning styles - special ed (this student attends special school 3days per weeek, our school 2 days per week, gifted ed, visual students, multi-literacies plus ‘normal‘ students.
  4. Increased motivation for writing - all students are happy to write and complete aspects of the post topic. Many will add to it in their own time.
  5. Increased motivation for reading - my students will happily spend a lot of time browsing through fellow student posts and their global counterparts. Many have linked their friends onto their blogroll for quick access. Many make comments, albeit often in their own sms language.
  6. Improved confidence levels - a lot of this comes through comments and global dots on their cluster maps. Students can share their strengths and upload areas of interest or units of work eg personal digital photography, their pets, hobbies etc Staff are given an often rare insight into what some students are good at. We find talents that were otherwise unknown and it allows us to work on those strengths. It allows staff to often gain insight to how students are feeling and thinking.
  7. Pride in their work - My experience is that students want their blogs to look good in both terms of presentation and content. (Sample of a year 10 boy’s work)
  8. Blogs allow text, multimedia, widgets, audio and images - all items that digital natives want to use
  9. Increased proofreading and validation skills
  10. Improved awareness of possible dangers that may confront them in the real world, whilst in a sheltered classroom environment
  11. Ability to share - part of the conceptual revolution that we are entering. They can share with each other, staff, their parents, the community, and the globe.
  12. Mutual learning between students and staff and students.
  13. Parents with internet access can view their child’s work and writings - an important element in the parent partnership with the classroom. Grandparents from England have made comments on student posts. Parents have ‘adopted’ students who do not have internet access and ensured they have comments.
  14. Blogs may be used for digital portfolios and all the benefits this entails
  15. Work is permanently stored, easily accessed and valuable comparisons can be made over time for assessment and evaluation purposes
  16. Students are digital natives - blogging is a natural element of this.
  17. Gives students a chance  to show responsibility and trustworthiness and engenders independence.
  18. Prepares students for digital citizenship as they learn cybersafety and netiquette
  19. Fosters peer to peer mentoring. Students are happy to share, learn from and teach their peers (and this, often not their usual social groups)
  20. Allows student led professional development and one more……
  21. Students set the topics for posts - leads to deeper thinking activities

This is surely powerful learning!!

Posted in Anne Mirtschin | 4 Comments »