Monday, February 2, 2009

getting to classroom tools

To work off of my last post I have a very simple question. Should a school provide email addresses for their students? A simple question perhaps, but not so simple of an answer.
As a said in my last post, there are so many free Web 2.0 tools out there which can be used by students (and teachers alike) to make the classroom a more exciting and interesting place. The downside? Most of those tools involve having an email address to register. Want to use Google's Doc and Spreadsheet - need to have an email address. Want to sign up for a blog or a wiki - need to have an email address. Want to download podcasts - need to have an email address. How about twitter, skype, youtube, etc? All need an email address. There are so many of these tools that someone has created a site where you can get an email address which lasts for 10 minutes (the site is called 10 minute mail).
So what is a school to do? You can't just give all the students email addresses and say good luck. Too many bad things can happen. Do you have all the messages go through the teacher to monitor them? You have now given your teachers a whole lot more mail and taken up a whole lot more of their time. What about if a student does something inappropriate (bullying, threatening, etc) while on your email accounts? How is the school held accountable and how do they hold the students accountable? All tough questions.

1 comment:

Kathy Schrock said...

I figured it was easier to leave the comment on your blog, too.

Here are your questions and my answers:

Did the school provide the email address (to register for the google account) for the students or did they all have them already?

With Google Apps for Education, they have to host your email domain, so we used one of our domains, and created the accounts based on the naming convention we chose.

Do the students/parents have to sign an agreement discussing appropriate use (or is it part of the AUP)?

We had a separate email AUP this year, since there were specific things we wanted to target as far as email was concerned. For students under 14, parents had to sign, but high school students signed their own.

Do they monitor emails for issues (bullying, inappropriate comments, etc)?

There is no "they"...I am the district technology administrator. However, I do not monitor any email unless something is brought to my attention, and I only do it with the student whose account is being accessed present in the room. Students know that their school-supplied email is subject to review. We do a big educational push to explain the difference between ones personal email account and ones "professional" email account. In addition, the main reason we obtained the email addresses for students was the use of the collaborative Google apps by the teachers and students, as well as the student's ability to use some online Web 2.0 tools. Part of this initiative was the education of the parents as to why we were doing this, too.