I plan on using flickr, delicious, and a couple other web tools for my middle schoolers. What's the golden rule on usernames and student info. They all ask for first and last names. Should a student not use their name as a username? How do I keep this consistent? There seem to be a few schools of thought on this.

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Good question. To solve this issue, I think the best method is to do a teachername# for the kids. Some resources want an email as well. For this I think setting up free accounts though gmail or the like with a teachername# (student number) and then setting up the accounts with no access for the students to the email is best. Allowing anyone to contact the kids through email or offering the public a portion of student information is just asking for trouble, or just offering information that does not really benefit the curricular goals. At least for me this is the case. I'm at a k-6, but we're big on sticking close to the academic goals and protecting our kids from outside influence unless it's directly related to the goals AND still safe. You could also have the kids make aliases, but I would bet the consensus will be to leave personal info out. Good luck! Great idea!
We use epals for email, they use first name and number for email addresses. I don't know if I'd give middle schoolers free rein of anything, especially social networks, flickr-like sites, etc. Ask yourself---why? What am I trying to accompish? One delicious site for links you want them to use is enough, one photo site for the crowd is enough (I use Photobucket). You spread your monitoring-self too thin and you are going to miss something that will blow up on ya!

Last spring, we used gmail for a special google docs writing project and some kids accounts were innundated with spam.

I agree with Erik, think twice about what you are tying to do and ask yourself if the tool you choose is going to make kids learn more, think harder, come to more "ah-ha" moments, and still be safe? or are you just using the tools to be using them?

I teach gifted K-6 (60 kids a week), we've done blogs, wikis, online book discussions, Animoto videos, avatars, online drawing programs, Scratch, Alice, etc etc. I know almost immediately if "it's worth it"----many things we've tried ONCE.

Whatever you decide to do make sure it fall under your district's AUP and get written permission from parents. N.
I'm covered by the AUP, but I'm using Flickr for the freedom of Creative Commons research. Personally, if they are going to be researching and looking for photos, they are more likely to find something inappropriate in Google Images than Flickr.
None of my students will be uploading photos to flickr right now. Many of my students are doing research in 6th and 7th grade, and with delicious, I want them to learn how to do collaborative research. It's part of the ISTE standards. If anyone knows how delicious can be harmful to a child, please let me know. If they're going to be using Google anyway for their research, why not teach them to important skill of tagging their research and categorizing their research?

My only concern with all of this is the registering process. I don't question my motives because they are all based in the ISTE standards. I just want to make sure that I'm following guidelines for setting up these accounts. I've heard a million things about what kind of info students should use when signing up, and if they're using something like delicious which doesn't ask for more than an name and email address, than I wonder "what could happen?"

I think what your doing sounds great, teaching them appropriate research skills. I like the idea of collaboration even more. I think delicious is a great resource and I don't think that personal information can be gleaned easily from that site, so that's good, but watch Google and Flickr. Personally, I would handle the emails and screen names, but I would watch Flickr and Google like a hawk. I know the intent is good, but I had a similar situation in my district where good intention using Flickr went bad. And Google, well Google is quite a resource with good and bad possibilities if you're not careful. There are PLENTY of very disturbing images on that site and certainly some that a 7th grade student would find offensive. So, great project idea, but I think you've got a monitoring beast of a job here and if you use emails that link kids to the general public, you'll be introducing another realm of danger to the kids.
What if I tell students to do some of their Internet research and tagging at home with their parents? That way they'll be monitored by the parent, and they'll still get done what needs to be done. The parents might also like having that involvement.
Good idea!
I didn't mean to imply that your were going off "halfcocked", as my dad used to say. I have been using technology every day in my classroom for over 20 years and I know the pitfalls.

My thinking about bookmarking sites is this, what prevents them from saving any sites they darn well please (movies, gaming, facebook pages, Hooters models?) Are you going to check daily and make sure they are on task?

My thinking about photosharing is this, what if kids upload pics of classmates and make inapropriate comments? Are you going to check daily? Still think there is a lot to monitor. Good Luck with your project. N
I like this discussion, don't get me wrong. We're getting somewhere. When it comes to AUP, the parents and kids signed it twice, so if students go places they know they shouldn't. then they know there will be consequences for their actions. So they could still go there, but they'll get suspended. There's like five different ways students could contact me to flag inappropriate use. We also have a content filter at school, so that helps a whole bunch.

Since we're using delicious, they're sharing their research with everyone else including myself, so if they did bookmark something bad, it would point right to them. The process they are learning is that at school, you "don't go there" when it comes to inappropriate content. That in itself is a good skill to have, and it's good when you have the security measures in place.

As for photosharing. Nothing prevents them from uploading other than the AUP, which makes their parents responsible.
Yea, I like the way you're thinking, big. I too like the idea of the AUP working as it should and parent involvement is a great idea. I think that if this were my class, and I was interested in such a project I would start in stages. I would start with the AUP, of course, and then introduce portions of what you've described until the kids understood consequences, parents had a role in their child's online life, and the kids could basically handle the bundle of temptations you handed them. Start slow and good luck. Good thread.



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