- Read the terms of service of the tools you would like to use. These terms are often difficult to sift through, and I’ve been guilty of reading them too quickly. When in doubt contact the company and ask for clarification. (Example: In some cases, where it is not acceptable for a 12 year old to create their own account on a system, it might be acceptable for them to use a teacher’s account within a supervised classroom environment.)
- Take some time to get familiar with the legal parameters that schools must comply with. Make sure someone in your school truly understands CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA and that the conversations that guide the development of policies, practices, and procedures in schools relating to Internet use is not based on fear and misconception. Much needed teacher voice is sometime lacking in this process. After reading this FAQ from SafeWiredSchools and similar information sources, I became more confident in my ability to make responsible professional decisions about classroom management strategies that used Web 2.0 tools.
CIPA is the Children's Internet Protection Act, and was passed in late 2000. It requires schools and libraries receiving certain types of federal funding to filter or block Internet access to "visual depictions" of material that is obscene, child pornography, and when minors are using the computer, material that is harmful to minors.
COPPA is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, and was passed in 1998. It requires commercial Web sites oriented to minors to get parental permission to collect personally identifiable information from children under age 13.
Your school’s legal advisor should be able to clarify ambiguity, and offer support and protection for educators seeking to use web 2.0 tools.
- Create a classroom set of logins for your favorite Web 2.0 tool that you as a teacher keeps control of for your class. Google Certified Teacher, Kyle Brumbaugh, sent me this video tutorial he found in Google Certified Teacher Forums that allows teachers to easily create classrooms sets of logins without creating new emails for most Web 2.0 tools. However, I can't see a way to avoid creating a new gmail account to access Google docs for a each member of my class. Yet, this method did allow me to create those student accounts quickly using my teacher gmail account as the "required" alternate email account. As a teacher, I consider myself to be the one entering into a partnership with Google (not the students) and I would only do this with a group of students where I was willing to accept the responsibility for supervising my students' behavior. I would also take the additional precaution of setting up a forward rule on each student gmail account, so that all mail gets forwarded to my teacher account. You can then use the "filter" method suggested in the video tutorial to keep this mail organized.
A big thanks to readers who came forth with such wonderful resources to encourage our colleagues who are almost ready to take the plunge. Keep those ideas coming; readers like J. Allen are particularly looking for those strategies that work for younger children.
P.S. In an upcoming post, I’d like to feature educators who have found Google Apps for Your Domain, the key to classroom management in a Web 2.0 world. Drop me a comment if this tool has worked well for you.