In response to parental concerns about online predators, Australian teacher Al Upton has been given an Order of Closure by the Risk and Management/Special Investigations Unit from the South Australian Education Department. Mr. Upton's 8- and 9-year-old students will no longer be able to continue their hugely successful miniLegends blogging project, which has run for five years without incident.
Many educational bloggers have already responded to this action. Fellow Australian, Sue Waters, says that Upton would prefer that we
use this opportunity to inform/educate parents and Education Departments of the value of blogging for learners and to discuss the true realities of cyberstalking /bullying.Anne Mirtschin listed 20 reasons why students should blog. SkyDaddy is too angry to reply in that vein at the moment, but he refers readers to a thoughtful post by Nancy White concerning the benefits of student Internet use.
A few days ago, Wesley Fryer summarized research done by the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. He concludes
The message of these studies and this article is similar to mine in workshops and presentations I share on Internet Safety and online social networking: There ARE risks associated with online communication, but in many cases the media has overblown them and we need to take a more balanced, realistic approach as educators, parents and community leaders.
Many school-aged children spend unsupervised time on home computers. Conscientious parents are alarmed by stories of online predators and cyber bullying but don't have the skills or knowledge to instruct their children in digital safety. The classroom is the logical place for students to receive safety instruction and participate in guided practice.
Our children and teen-agers must have fluency in communication and collaboration to be successful in the world they inhabit. Rather than encase them in armor, we should arm them with knowledge.
*Update: Sue Waters has collected Blogger and Twitter reactions to the Order of Closure here.
"There is only one good - knowledge; and only one evil - ignorance." –Socrates
"Metropolitan Museum of Art (10)" by maggie loves hopey