When it comes to the issue of students posting things publicly online, my focus (as a student AND a teacher) is how it will affect the online “self” we are all curating. Is the classwork attached to our full real name? Will it show up on the first page of search results because it is recent?
Many people likely think it’s paranoid to worry about one’s class choice and discussion contributions showing up in an online search. I agree that there are few scenarios that jump to mind where the risk is high. But I still like to think critically about any digital footprint I leave.
If I am a non-degree student and I enroll in an ECE class about infants, or a special topics class on a certain religion, that may lead people to make certain assumptions about me. Normally no one would find out what classes I’m taking in a given semester. But a publicly available class forum does mean a potential employer or nosy acquaintance could run across that information if the class requires public posting online.
I think the other posts this week have already pointed out many of the pros and cons of public posting. On the “cons” side, some folks discussed intellectual property concerns (my name is attached, but it’s a class blog not a journal article; does that mean anyone can “steal” my curriculum now?) Others mentioned the knowledge and maturity gap of grade and high school students compared to grad students (how do we encourage free flow of ideas and discourage bullying?)
On the “pros” side, the “public” label of my posts encourages me to think a little more carefully about my arguments and dig deeper for evidence I can link to. Being able to have hyperlinks and tags is nice for when I want to revisit content later. I think this blog archive could come in handy in the future, so it’s nice that it is searchable and I could easily share it with colleagues if I wanted to.
As people we are all evolving; a student’s opinion going into a discussion may change by the end after he or she has heard the stories and evidence others provide. So, I’d rather they have the opportunity to revise things. I have a friend that teaches critical race theory, and has some very tough and productive discussions in class. But they are non-recorded discussions, and students are asked to keep things “inside” of class. Am I just not giving students enough credit in thinking they won’t speak as freely if they know their words will be posted publicly? I guess I come from a community where, if you’re going to blast your opinion on the internet, it’s because you are comfortable being an “outspoken activist.”
The question was posed, in which circumstances do the advantages supersede the concerns? I would really like my answer to be “whenever the circumstances will allow true learning to occur.” But I am still wary of having any discussions that would relate to religion or politics in a digital public forum, because screenshots make everything permanent. I guess I’m still working on what is and isn’t “hype.”