The panel featured panel members:
Jay Haugen: Superintendent, West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Eagan Schools
Aimee Bissonette: Attorney, Little Buffalo Law & Consulting; author, "Cyber Law - Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classroom"
Michael Dronen: Director of Educational Technology, Stillwater Schools
The first question dealt with whether or not districts even need an AUP?
Bissonette and Haugen discussed that policies and procedures are two different things and that it was important legally for districts to cover themselves.
The question of student e-mail came up. Dronen stated that students in Stillwater have an e-mail address grades 5-12 to use on student projects. He stated that students passing notes in the analog world, now it's in the digital. Students get an address if they are working on a project for school, and they have provided a document for parents and students sign off on.
The main difference is the domain of the e-mail address is different.
Dronen said that the teacher-parent communication piece is key to any of this. Teachers being up front with parents about what they are doing in class or on their Web site goes a long way. The perception is the key!
Cell phone numbers-Is it ok for students and teachers to share those numbers? Facebook friends, is it ok for teachers to friend their students?
Bissonette stated the importance of being as transparent as possible. She handed out a packet she prepared for the talk that included examples of districts that have experienced legal problems due to disciplining texting in class, Facebook postings, the blocking of certain sites,
Is student e-mail private or public? Bissonette said that the question is how students were told the e-mail would be used. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act relates to student privacy enacted first in 1974 requires parental consent to post information. Since the cut off is 18, after that age, parents do not have access to that information. This can pose problems for K-12 schools!
A question from the audience about student e-mail talked about the practicality of teachers being able to access it. Dronen said his directory was only accessible within the district. Teachers access to student e-mail accounts for instructional purposes should be clearly stated in the Acceptable use policy.
All of these are policies that need to be discussed and planned for.
Haugen said that schools need to be about life, if not, we are marginalized. Good policies and procedures need to be in place and then how can we engage students in the technology that is available. If we just say "no", we will lose the students.
The Children's Internet Protection Act requires districts to use filtering software, but districts may control what gets filtered. Bissonette thinks that is a good thing!
A question from the audience asked about Web 2.0 and the difference between content created outside of school versus inside of school. Dronen said that an Edjurist attorney recently commented that these tools have blurred the line between what schools can control. He advocates going slow and steady with Web 2.0 tools because whenever technology is attached to something, there is some fear.
If we are helping students develop a strong, positive footprint, is it best to use their full names?
Dronen stated that the context is important. At some point, students may want to "brand" themselves for the future. We as educators need to be open to it, as long as it's age appropriate.
- There's lots of grey area