Category Archives: eSmart

Say Cheese!

 This blog post is the third in a series focused on some of the issues surrounding the use of ICT within educational settings and my reflections as we move through the eSmart Accrediation Process.

Image by The Suss-Man (Mike). Used under a creative commons licence.

In the last few weeks of term, we have been madly preparing community events like our Christmas Concert and Graduation. Naturally, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members want to remember and capture these events that feature their children through photographs or home movies.

As teachers and as schools we are required to fill in countless permission forms these days for even the most basic of things; including taking students photographs and detailing where they will be published. Yet, here were our parents and students taking photos and videos without us and of other students without us having any idea where they would end up.

I’m not for banning cameras from events, but surely this does create a grey area in schools. In a world that has come so litigious, are we creating a situation where we are putting ourselves and our students are at risk ?

How do you manage parents and students taking photos at school events ?

Reading the fine print

This blog post is the second in a series focused on some of the issues surrounding the use of ICT within educational settings and my reflections as we move through the eSmart Accrediation Process.

We’ve all done it. You know, when you sign up to that new account or you download the latest iTunes update and your presented with pages upon pages of legal-speak about what you will and won’t do and what rights you are signing over to the creater of the program that the majority of the time we just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on that “I accept the terms and conditions” tick box.

Whilst this may be fine for personal use, how does the ‘fine print’ impact on our use of Web 2.0 tools within our classrooms and our schools?

Let me share with you my current experience to give you a personal understand of where I am coming from.


Photo by William McInnes – Used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Our Year 5 students are currently looking at Federal Government (as most senior primary classes do) as part of their Inquiry unit this term. trying to think of how I could best intergrate this into our ICT lessons, I came up with the idea that wouldn’t it be great if they created comics to explain a particular political concept. (Check out my comic that explains a double dissolution)

Being at a new school, we don’t have much purchased ‘software’ as such, but I was certain that I could surely find a free web 2.0 tool that would meet our needs. This is where my problems started to arise.

I initally investigated “Comic Life” as this is part of the EduStar Mac Image, but was disapointed as there was no ability to generate your own computerised characters. Instead you had to utilise photographs or other illustrations that had been pre-generated. This didn’t meet my focus and my tight timeline didn’t allow for students to be generating their own images; I needed something quicker and more immediate.

My next stop was to look at Pixton. I had used this previously to create my own comics for blog posts and loved the simplicity of how easy it was to create a comic that looked quite professional. Upon investigating, I noticed that it did have a version setup for school use, however this required payment. After investigating the costs to generate an account for each of our Year 5 students, I couldn’t justify the cost given that this was project we were only go to work on in ICT for this term and it was highly unlikely that they would access the software for other future tasks.

Trying to think of a work around, I looked into creating personal accounts for the students. Again, I hit a brick wall when it came to the Terms of Service when using Pixton.

By submitting a membership application and accepting the terms of this agreement, you represent and warrant to us that:

  1. You are an individual who can form a legally binding contract at law; and
  2. You are – or your parent, who is accepting these Terms, is – at least 19 years old, and of the age of majority in the jurisdiction from which you access Pixton.

The students I was working with for this task are of Primary School age (10-12 years old) so that ruled out them being of able for “form a legally binding contract at law” and I am not their parent so I couldn’t generate the account for them.

By this point I was becoming frustrated and thought of tapping into the power of my PLN. Out goes the tweet…

I did get some suggested sites and was sent a link to a great slideshare presentation that featured a huge list of online comic creaters.

So I sifted through them all… one by one

With the execption of the Guide to Social Media, I’m unable to find any specific documentation from the Department that outlines schools and teachers responsibilities regarding the use of Web 2.0 tools.

Teachers are already busy people. Surely we shouldn’t need to wade our way through pages of legal-speak to simply determine if I am able to use a site with students.

How are schools ‘getting around’ this ? What web 2.0 tools are you using with your students ? Do you look\read the Terms of Service ?

Are you sending home permission forms for each of the web 2.0 tools they wish to use and getting parents to sign off of them ?

Is this included as part of your schools ICT Acceptable Use Agreements that parents sign?

….Or are most just burrying their head in the sand hoping that if they ignore it the issue won’t arrise ?

Facebook: Are you old enough ?

I am currently leading a team at my school that is working on implementing the eSMart accrediation program that has been developed by the Allanah and Madeline Foundation and supported by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. 

Underataking this process has made me consider, question and reflect on how we use ICT in our daily lives and the many issues surrounding its use; particularly within an educational setting.

Over the coming weeks, I aim to share some of these issues and thoughts with you and that you will share your thoughts, practices and experiences.

As I’ve gone about researching information for the development of our school polcies for eSmart, I was clicking my way through the eSmart Portal and the DEECD Learning OnLine site, I came across some details regarding Facebook. I was interetsed and wanted to know more as this has caused some issues in the past. As I work in a primary school, details regarding children under the age of 13 who have Facebook accounts took my interest.

Facebook requires individuals to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. In some jurisdictions, the age limit may be higher. Providing false information to create an account is always a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.This includes accounts registered on the behalf of under 13 year old children by older parties.

If your underage child (child under the age of 13) has created an account on Facebook, you can show them how to delete their account by having them log into their account and following this link.

If you would like to report an account registered for an underage child to us, please do so here. We will promptly delete the account of any child under the age of 13 that is reported to us through this form.

Does this then mean that we as teachers as part of our Duty of Care are required to report such violations ?

A school also has a Duty of Care responsibility to identify known and foreseeable risks to students and to take reasonable steps to minimise these risks and to support students in their care. This includes online and digital environments, particularly those that are created and/or owned by the school and its teaching staff.

In the past, I have made sure that I am very clear when speaking to students about Facebook that the school does not promote it use and encourages the use of other online tools such as the Ultranet, Global2 blogs or SuperClubsPlus to connect and communicate with students and other staff.

However, on the flip side of this, I am well aware that our students use these tools and\or will make use of them once they leave primary school. In the past I have even discussed with senior students ways they can better secure their Facebook accounts with the aim of arming them information to protect their privacy and strategies for dealing with unwanted online beheaviours.


What are your thoughts ?

Does your school have a policy\procedure regarding this ?

Have you had an experience reporting a under-age Facebook user ?

Image by birgerking. Used under a Creative Commons licence.