Getting Kids to Think About Their Internet Identity

The job of schools, in my opinion, is to educate and to enable. So I don't like a lot of rules especially when they consist largely of lists of things not to do. Rules all too often prevent thinking. Telling students "don't do" is the opposite of enabling them to actually do things. Unfortunately a lot of what passes for Internet Safety training is all lists of "don't do this." So I struggle with how to do it right.

Yesterday I read a post by Vinnie Vrotny, the Director of Academic Technology at a small private preK-12 school in Winnetka, Illinois, that seems like a huge step in the right direction.

Vinnie struggles with some of the same issues I have and has decided to try a new tactic this year. Explaining the Internet user policy and talking about Internet safety falls in his lap at his school and he is tired of focusing on the negative messages. So he is going to talk to students about how they appear on the Internet.

What will people find when they look up the student in a search engine for example. And he is going to talk about consequences and try to get the students to think about what they are doing. As Vinnie says:

I am hoping that this gets students understand that everything that they do has a consequence. Some are trivial, but others may be more long term and potentially damaging to their reputations and meeting goals that they have set for themselves. I am trying to develop a message that is sticky, that students will hear and remember, and hopefully take seriously.

Explaining things to students and trying to get them to think! Sounds like a great idea to me.

Note: Crossposted from my personal blog at MSN Spaces

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