Virtual School Meanderings

July 25, 2017

EDTECH537 – Potential Hazards Of Blogging

Earlier this summer, as you were preparing your blogging disclosure, we discussed some of the cautions about blogging. You read through such entries as:

Now that you have been blogging for a few weeks, have you encountered any situations that have made you feel uncomfortable in your blogging? Are there any potential issues that you could foresee occurring in the future (particularly when school is back in session and you have students, colleagues and an administrator to consider)? How have you or will you deal with these delicate situations?

As I described in the Week 5 overview, please post your response as a comment to this blog entry. For those reading this who are not a part of my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, feel free to leave examples you have experienced.

121 Comments »

  1. Most people, at some point in their lives, find themselves searching for a job. If you are a blogger and looking for a job or you are a professional or academician the articles above are a great reminder of the risks you take when putting your unfiltered thoughts out to the public.
    I mean, everyone vents! We may not all vent virtually, but at some point, we all have had to talk about what has bothered us with someone. Blogging makes it very convenient and easy because you get a big audience and you didn’t have to set up a time to share your feelings, at anytime you have an audience ready to hear what you have to share.

    However, after starting my own blog I realized how quickly a post can spread. For instance, when we had a guest post on our blog, I shared the permalink of the post on social media and tagged the author (per request) and right away we received lots of comments about how cool it was that a past student of mine was now in the Basque Country learning Basque, how they liked the post, etc… What was crazy to me was how fast it had spread thanks to the share button! Even if we were on two separate continents and in different time zones his post had been read widely through our friends and contacts. Anybody in the world could potentially run into that post. It was interesting to see that although no one replied to my guest writer’s post on the blog itself many had read it and shared it on their social media. It felt weird knowing that many viewed it and read it but never left a comment. So really a lot more people had accessed it than I could see.

    For right now I think I will stick to having a class blog and not a personal blog. If I ever feel like I need a personal blog I may consider using a pseudonym just to be safe in the future when I am out looking for a job. Keeping my blog for professional reasons will help me remember who my audience is and teach my students about making sure they are happy with what they have to say before they hit post. They need to know that it is almost uncontrollable to stop a post from being shared. If you can think of one person that could read what you are about to say and it would make you feel embarrassed, then it may be best not to post it. Portray yourself in the manner you want to be seen by the world because your blog says a lot about you. If you want to feel heard and the issue is a hot topic, the least you could do is be conscious about how you say it and in a kind way, because maybe you reach the audience you were hoping for at least you didn’t disrespect anyone. Influential people also read blog posts so you may be able to trigger the change you hoped. It is all a gamble. Just think ahead of time if you are willing to take the risks before pressing post.

    Comment by maestracayero — July 25, 2017 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

    • I’m wondering what is the difference between venting and taking a position – and would someone reviewing someone else’s blog content know the difference? For example, use the search feature on the right hand side of my blog and search for the term “neo-liberal”. Is this me complaining or taking an ideological position when I call people or organizations this term?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 25, 2017 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

      • Is this the post you were referring to? https://virtualschooling.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/neo-liberalism-and-public-education-explained/
        Venting and taking a position are closely related. They both suggest to express freely and with strong emotion. However, culturally, venting has had a negative connotation. When you vent, you let it all out, you discharge all of your negative opinions. In the other hand, when you are taking a position, you share what your beliefs are on a given topic and most of the time these topics are hot topics so people are used to hearing both sides of the story but want to persuade the reader.
        I believe that taking an ideological position within the education setting should actually be done more. It makes people go out and do their own research, discuss it with others and then take a stance and reason with others about the topic. In my opinion, students should know how to take stance s and justify them comfortably, but culturally people are afraid to take a position because they are afraid of what others may think. If we were to teach students to learn to listen to what others have to share and challenge each others’ thinking. Everyone would learn something new. Venting in the other hand is more complaining about something that happened to you or don’t think it is right.

        Comment by maestracayero — July 27, 2017 @ 10:15 am

      • Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of entries like https://virtualschooling.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/a-blended-learning-revolution/ or https://virtualschooling.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/inacol-releases-new-report-next-generation-learning-models-for-english-language-learners-promising-practices-and-considerations-for-teaching-and-learning/ where I simply identify groups, organizations, and individuals as neo-liberals. It is not venting, but it is also not taking a position – at least not in an overt way. For me, it is calling a spade a spade. In much the same way that if you review the comments from the entries on Questions About The School Of Tomorrow and Guest Blogger: Examining Accelerated Christian Education you’ll see that I had no issues with calling out religious fundamentalism when I saw it.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 27, 2017 @ 3:31 pm

      • Growing up in Spain, talking about religion, politics, any other hot topic was the norm. Everyone shares updates, facts, and opinions about the latest news or movements even kids! However, when I moved back to the US, I was reminded that not everyone is willing to openly share what they are thinking or simply avoid any topic that we may disagree on. Nevertheless, a see disagreeing as a good thing. When someone disagrees with me I am able to look into that topic further and carry on a conversation with them a later time and possibly even change my initial opinion. I don’t think that there is a problem calling on people when done respectfully. I actually wish that we move push one another further. Many times I am able to carry on a conversation with someone or an online dialogue without ever telling them where I actually stand. We can all learn from one another and “shape” our knowledge, it simply must be done respectfully and with good manners.

        Comment by maestracayero — July 28, 2017 @ 9:18 am

      • I think one of the issues is that not matter how respectful and good mannered you are, there are certain people – often focused on certain topics – that will just not listen to reason or be moved from their entrench – often faith-based – position(s).

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

    • I understand why you would like to not keep a personal blog since its so easy for things to spread. I started blogging a few years ago and I debated it for awhile. When I was at a conference, they talked about how if you aren’t telling your story online, someone else will and it may not be the story you want. This really spoke to me and finally motivated me to get blogging.This also motivated me to get students blogging and social media to help get their story out there in a positive and productive way. There are definitely pros and cons of blogging, but I think personal blogs are a great way to model and demonstrate safe digital behavior for students.

      Comment by Kaitlin Morgan — July 29, 2017 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

      • That is very true. I always advise people to Google themselves on a public computer – so that way you don’t get the preferred search options based upon your own browser history. As someone who has cared or sat on the over doesn’t search committees, I can tell you that I have googled every single name that has made the shortlist – and I have fight against candidates that I found objectionable material about online. More importantly, I’ve also actually argued against candidates because they had a lack of online profile ( which in this day and age is just not acceptable in higher education).

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 4:31 am

  2. While I find academic blogs advantageous to my learning and development (foregoing the arguments that they may become filled with tedium and/or claim to be academic when they’re actually not), if a person decides to publish a blog in his/her personal name, said person has to walk a fine line, because “the Google cache is forever” (Drum, 2005), which means published commentary can spell disaster. Whether a potential employer scours the Internet for information on a person to inform a hiring decision, or an individual enters public service and the world digs for dirt, what is published can/will be retrieved.

    This makes me wary of maintaining a personal blog, though I actually do have one (that has been sitting in virtually reality, ignored for years). Should said blog be found by my current students, peers, or administrators, I have nothing to worry about – I started it as a way to chronicle my life abroad in Germany way back when – but do I want all those people to become that familiar with me? Do I want students, for instance, to cozy on up and discuss the details of my young life, as if we’re close friends or relatives? I’ve had to teach my fair share of odd kiddos, and thinking about their pleasure in knowing details about me (even benign ones) is creepier than keeping them guessing. And, to be honest, at the time I wrote on my personal blog, I often wondered if I wanted others to know my whereabouts to the degree I published them. I was abroad, immersed in a different language and culture. Everything was foreign to me. What if the wrong person tracked me down online and then found my residence? It would have been that much harder to navigate “scary” there than in my native country and language. I can imagine the dark side of this scenario nowadays as people are unaware of the footprints they leave everywhere on the Internet, GPS services become more accurate, and human trafficking increases in the world. Ugh.

    That said, I intend to keep things professional from here on out in terms of blogging. Establishing a blog for my German exchange program is something I’ve wanted to do from the time I inherited the GAPP exchange – now I have the push to do it! It will provide GAPP participants and their families critical travel information, insurance tid-bits, relevant forms, and bonus material to help them stay abreast of program updates and become educated about the program. The administration will love the professional tone it sets as well. On a side note, I’m extremely excited for the Testimonial page to develop, as I’ve begun soliciting responses from numerous past-GAPP participants regarding their experiences and where they are now, and I have received the most amazing updates! I’m amped to share their insights with other German learners and potential exchangers – their testimonials might make a world of difference to future GAPPers, quite literally!

    ——————–
    References

    Drum, K. (2005). The risks of blogging. Washington monthly. Retrieved from http://washingtonmonthly.com/2005/07/11/the-risks-of-blogging/

    Comment by Kerri Patton — July 25, 2017 @ 9:30 pm | Reply

    • Kerri, when does the professional become personal? As an example, I consider this my professional blog – as it focuses on my research interests (or at least the broad topic of my research interests). But I also use it to post samples for EDTECH537 each summer. While those samples are still focused on K-12 distance, online, and blended learning, the regular weekly messages I post are not. However, as a public academic I am also not shy about stating my informed opinions on various topics in my field, some (many actually) of which oppose the dominant paradigm.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 7:14 am | Reply

      • Professional and personal mix online, often times – just take a look at my “digital handshake” video that I intend to share with parents where perfect strangers or arms-length parents whom I’ve only met a handful of times now see my personal pictures and meet my family.

        I can’t/wouldn’t go too in depth expounding upon my personal opinions on the GAPP blog, however, as it would not be tolerated in my district. In fact, anything connected to my district officially has to be approved (even a Facebook or Twitter site for a school club run by me), and we sign a contract full of small print about what we can/cannot do/publish online in relation to the school. Just thinking out loud here, but perhaps public K-12 institutions are a bit stricter than higher ed in that way, because we’re more tied to the local economies in which we exist than a state institution….I don’t know.

        Comment by Kerri Patton — August 9, 2017 @ 7:42 pm

      • Quite possibly. In higher education, faculty do have academic freedom – although that kind of protection isn’t what it used to be. And for adjunct faculty, they have less protection than most K-12 teachers enjoy.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — August 12, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

    • Once published it traceable! I love the idea of blogging and I, like you, intend to keep one after this class and even do it with my students. However, I may use an educational blog like Edublogs or Seesaw (just so it is not so public) but even then if someone shares your QR code then anyone could access it. As long as my students and I are aware that what they published can potentially be read by anyone in the world, we will be able to use it for its great uses.
      Good luck on you GAPP exchange blog.

      Comment by maestracayero — July 26, 2017 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

      • There is also the issue of what is written in the comments. While I would argue that most of the comments that get posted on this blog are relevant to the topic and, for the most part, informed. But that is not always the case. For example, check out the comments that have occurred on these two entries to my own blog: Questions About The School Of Tomorrow and Guest Blogger: Examining Accelerated Christian Education.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

      • Good point professor! Comments themselves could be the ones that get out of hand and not the initial post itself. I am sorry that people were attacking each other on your post and not answering your question. Maybe having a note at the bottom of the initial post that says that any comments were that irrelevant will be deleted by the owner of the blog could help? Regardless, I think you did a good job being a professsional and trying to get the conversation back on track.

        Comment by maestracayero — July 27, 2017 @ 10:31 am

      • Don’t you think that kind of comment would discourage interaction on your blog in general? Plus, I bet that if you ask any of the individuals behind those comments, they’d tell you that they honestly believed that they were answering my question.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 27, 2017 @ 3:33 pm

      • Maybe… I guess everyone participates before they have an opinion that they would like to be heard. However, they simply gave an opinion and didn’t give any facts to back up their opinion. Maybe if the note instead could say: make sure to add evidence? But this may people not post on your wall after all! Not sure what the right answer is…

        Comment by maestracayero — July 28, 2017 @ 9:22 am

      • *because

        Comment by maestracayero — July 28, 2017 @ 9:23 am

      • I did specifically ask for “independent evidence” – not that it made any difference to those that responded.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 6:57 pm

    • Kerri, I totally get it. I usually keep my blogging professional but have often (even recently) have debated about whether to start and maintain a more personal blog. I always have two competing thoughts about it. One, I am really big on making an impact. If by sharing out some of my personal experience as either an educator, foster parent, or gay dad, I can help someone with their own struggles or questions then I think that would be very cool. I also like the potential of this type of sharing connecting me to other people and families like mine in the world.

      But my second thought is safety and just too much online exposure. I would be blogging about my two boys and I always worry about putting too much information “out there”. I also feel that personal sharing is at a point of over-saturation and almost feels forced now with so many social media platforms. It can feel weirdly competitive and I truly feel like online sharing is the new junk food, meaning things are programmed to make you want to check and post more to see if you have gotten the positive response you intended. I also just want to return to some form of just LIVING life rather than always posting about it.

      That is where I am at and what came to mind as I read your post. We certainly live in an interesting time and I feel that we are all just trying to find our own way. I, like you, will continue to blog after this course. I also feel like I want to keep it about transformative learning practices rather than the daily activities of my crazy family.

      Comment by Jake Lee — July 28, 2017 @ 9:33 am | Reply

      • Jake, at one point I did maintain multiple blogs – see http://www.michaelbarbour.com/biography/blogs.htm. Personally when I started it made sense, and you’ll note I still use that personal blog from time to time (not that often though – 3 times in the past 11 years). I just found that it took a lot of time, more than I had to invest to be honest.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

      • “I also just want to return to some form of just LIVING life rather than always posting about it.”

        I love this.

        Comment by Kerri Patton — August 9, 2017 @ 7:44 pm

  3. This is a great reminder to all of us! As educators, we need to model an appropriate digital footprint by making smart choices. It is important to remember that anyone can see what we post online. A few years ago I read The Students are Always Watching: Schools and the Moral Contact by Theodore R. Sizer and Nancy Faust Sizer. The message in this book is very relevant in this conversation that is important to realize that the students see everything we do – online and in person. The same is, of course, true for parents, administrators, community leaders and more. Everyone can read what is written or tweeted or posted. At times I wonder if organizations should implement strong rules and regulations regarding posting on the internet, however, I would like to see strong professionals make good choices without needing to be policed.

    In my tenure as an educator, I have seen teachers participate in social media with students in ways that I think are inappropriate but that it the lynchpin – what I think is inappropriate! Is this generational? Is it because I have seen careers ruined? Am I too old school? It’s tough to know but we need to keep talking about this!

    – Christine

    Comment by mrscmonahan — July 26, 2017 @ 7:35 am | Reply

    • But what would you do when someone is using your space to take a position that is clearly wrong or fundamentally at odds with your own beliefs? This is an example that I tend to use a lot in this thread, but if you take a look at the entry Questions About The School Of Tomorrow that I posted several years ago. Throughout the comments of that thread you will see all of the crazy fundamentalists that come out of the woodwork to defend their beliefs in the face of my professional response to them. Many of them, such as “Patti” for instance, get quite insistent (and seem to have no shortage of time to respond in great detail). What do you do in those circumstances?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 10:02 am | Reply

      • Holy, no pun intended, Moly professor. That was an intense exchange with “Patti”. Reading through it was an education in how to handle such situations, because as you are saying, even comments are part of what is seen online. But as long as you are researched, respectful, and focused in your response it seems to stay above the fray. It reminded me of parent teacher conferences and other professional interactions that are face to face. It is very easy to type things on a keyboard that you wouldn’t necessarily say to someone in person. That is a conversation I often had with students. We would often talk about how “if you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it to them, then you probably shouldn’t type it”. Thanks for guiding me to that interaction. It taught me a lot.

        Comment by Jake Lee — July 28, 2017 @ 10:02 am

      • I’ll be honest and say that I use it as an example to highlight what can happen. And I make no claim to the fact that how I handled was the best way, it was just my way. In fact, if you move beyond the interactions with Patti and look at how I responded to others’ comments you’d note that sometimes I try to be welcoming and inviting, other times I am direct and blunt. Again, not claiming these are the best approaches – only that they work for me.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

      • Whoa. I got nosy and read Patti’s entries. She and you had quite the “discussion” about the ACE curriculum, though it didn’t get as nasty as I thought it might (which is a good thing for all parties involved, of course). I think insistence can be a fine trait if well-placed. Patti really must have had a lot of time on her hands to be *that* insistent, though – must have been that ACE curriculum she ordered to teach her kids while she played online ;)

        Comment by Kerri Patton — August 9, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

      • While it wasn’t specifically stated, I believe that Patti’s objections – and the time that she invested into expressing them – was more based on the fact that I was calling into question her Christian curriculum (and, by extension, her fundamentalist Christian beliefs). So it was more of a Crusade for her (capital “C” intended).

        Comment by Michael Barbour — August 12, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

      • Further evidence that things can get waaaay off topic in a simple blog post.

        Comment by Kerri Patton — August 12, 2017 @ 8:06 pm

    • In a sense, we are a “public figure”. In the past, I have battled with Facebook’s settings simply because they change so often and to keep it completely private you must stay on top of it. Like for Facebook with blogging, you have to be careful with what you are willing to share under your name, especially if you feel uncomfortable with the idea having someone, who is friends with another person that happens to be one of your student’s parent, reading your raw posts. Simply keep it professional and you will be safe.

      Comment by maestracayero — July 27, 2017 @ 9:49 am | Reply

      • This situation is true of Facebook, but unless you plan to have a private blog it is by its very nature not only available to friends, friends of friends, but really to anyone.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 27, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

      • And hat is the true beauty of a blog!

        Comment by maestracayero — July 28, 2017 @ 9:24 am

      • The beauty, but also the curse.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

  4. I have not yet had any uncomfortable situations in my blogging experiences, but this blog is still relatively new so that could definitely change in the future. I think one of the most important things to remember when working in education is it is never just about “me.” I am always representing my school no matter where I am or what I am doing. The same is true of blogging whether it be a professional or personal blog. I am going to be held accountable for anything I put online. I have to remember my students, coworkers, and administrators will be able to see my posts. As long as I maintain professionalism and follow the code of ethics, I do not see this as being a problem.
    I do have a personal blog that, like Kerri’s, has not been used or updated for some time. I started it as a way to try to be better at keeping a journal, but as life got busier, it fell to the wayside. I think if I were to start using a personal blog again, I would make it private and only share it with friends and family. I know that does not eliminate all the online dangers, but it would make it more difficult for my students and others to access it. I also think if I were to be in a classroom this next year, I would use a classroom blog. Students can own their content, but I as the instructor would have more control over what is posted. It would be a great way to teach students blogging skills that they could then use once the class is over if they choose to do so.

    Comment by Brittni Darrington — July 26, 2017 @ 8:53 am | Reply

    • Brittni, I wonder what would happen if even in the face of your professionalism, the trolls who comment on your blog just won’t let something die? For example, take a look at this entry that I posted many years ago – Questions About The School Of Tomorrow – and now scroll down and look at the interactions that I had with Patti in particular.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

      • Holy Schnikes… I bet you never wrote about this again. I think I would’ve left them to bicker amongst themselves instead of engaging. I’ve always heard the best way to ruin a conversation is to bring religion or politics into it. Might be a good rule to follow in blogging as well!

        Comment by Todd Koenig — July 29, 2017 @ 4:29 am

      • Actually, less than two years later – and at a point in time where I was receiving a lot of comments on the original entry – I contacted someone who had reached out to me about the first entry and asked him to pen a guest blog entry for me that resulted in “Guest Blogger: Examining Accelerated Christian Education“, and that was so much fun when it comes to the coments (e.g., look at the interaction between x_AlanT_x and napplegate) that four years later when someone else reached out to me I agreed to post Guest Blogger: School of Tomorrow.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 7:27 am

      • Wow, that’s something! And by looking at the initial comments, you definitely tagged those keywords with gusto! I guess a good row once in a while never hurts. :)

        Comment by Todd Koenig — July 29, 2017 @ 8:21 am

      • Definitely… Just try Googling “School of Tomorrow” or “Accelerated Christian Education” yourself and see what you get on the first page of results.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 8:32 am

      • I must admit I got “sucked in” to reading the comments on this post and probably spent more time than I should have doing so. :) It was very interesting to read the back and forth arguments. It seems that the majority of people did not understand the meaning of independent research. I believe in a situation like this, you have to stand your ground. You can still be professional and respectful even when in disagreement. There are always going to be those people that refuse to change their minds and let things go, so we do what we can. Sometimes we might have to eventually stop responding and just move on.

        Comment by Brittni Darrington — July 29, 2017 @ 11:09 am

      • Yeah, I’ve had that thread up for five or six years now, and each summer I get sucked in to re-reading the comments again and again… :)

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

  5. So far, I have not had any situations that have made me feel uncomfortable while blogging. However, one of the biggest concerns I foresee in blogging once school is in session, is the confidentiality aspect of special education. I would love to eventually use my blog as a showcase for student work and all the different things we do in my classroom. Since a blog can spread quickly across the web, I would not be able to use names or photos of any of my students. One solution to the name issue would be to use pseudonyms for students. This way students are still given the opportunity to show their work, but still maintain their anonymity.

    Comment by kendalcramer — July 26, 2017 @ 9:21 am | Reply

    • Another option would be to get parental/guardian permission to use the material beforehand. A blanket permission slip would allow you to post student work with their names and photos.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  6. The only semi-uncomfortable situation I ran into with blogging so far was the commentary post I made about grade inflation. While I basically knew what I wanted to say, I found myself deleting and retyping sentences if I believed they had even the slightest chance of getting me into trouble! While the problem of grade inflation does not personally affect me (or at least it hasn’t yet!), if the numbers from the study are to be trusted then we have a serious problem nationwide that needs to be addressed. Grade inflation was fairly difficult to blog about because parents and administrators are often the two biggest driving forces behind the problem. Coincidentally, parents and administrators have a lot of influence over a teacher’s job! I think teaching is the best profession in the world when parents and administrators are supportive, however, if the opposite is true then life can be miserable. In the end, I’m glad that I chose to blog about a difficult topic because the comments I received generally confirmed what I had been thinking and it made me think of possible solutions to the problem.

    I see a number of issues that could possibly ruin a well-intentioned classroom blog. The issue of online bullying, while certainly possible, probably wouldn’t happen on a blog site because commenters have to identify themselves. If a rude/racist/sexist comment was made it could easily be deleted by the the host. I love blogs as a possible tool for class/student portfolios. Teachers should consult with administration as to their school/district rules on posting student work and abiding by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    Comment by ryanbcolley — July 26, 2017 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

    • Ryan, there are a number of options for how you moderate comments on your blog. The tightest one – which is also the most time consuming – is to approve every comment. I note that most people, myself included, have their blogs set to moderate the first comment. But once an e-mail address or user is approved they have free rein to post unmoderated comments (that can still be deleted, but can also be seen before they get deleted). This more common model is fine, until you get that one irate parent or that one unrelenting Internet troll.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

    • Ryan – you make some great points! I am not a K12 teacher, but I live with one. I lived through a situation where the principal was absolutely against him for no reason at all. He ended up being allowed to transfer to a different school, but it was a long, drawn out process that seemed to take forever. And it was tough for me to see my husband go through so much pain. You do have to make sure that you have the approval of the parents and administrators before starting a classroom blog. Hopefully if you decide to start a blog, it will be a great experience for you.

      Comment by kellyspiese — July 30, 2017 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

      • Kelly, you are right to underscore the need to get approval and buy in from parents and administrators.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

  7. For me, its hard to believe that I have been blogging since September of 2014. In these three years, I have yet to encounter an uncomfortable situation in my blogging. I’m always very cautious and conscious about what I post to ensure that I do not post something that I would regret; sometimes to the point of paranoia. There are a variety of potential issues, ranging from an angry parent to an angry administrator to even just trolls online. I believe many of these issues can arise due to an emotional response so I keep my posts professional, avoid overly emotional posts (like anger or frustration), discuss students or people generally and not specifically, and only post things I would be comfortable talking about with parents, administrators, or institutions. If one of these issues were to arise, I would take the time to listen to that person’s perspective, reflect on the situation, and determine how I can alleviate the situation as well as how to improve for next time.

    Comment by kmorgan81091 — July 26, 2017 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

    • Kaitlin, you can always post something rather innocent and it takes on a life of its own. Above I have used the example of my entry Questions About The School Of Tomorrow, where I just asked for folks to let me know if they knew of any empirical research about the effectiveness of this program. If you look at the comments, you’ll see that the entry took on a life of its own, and continue to do so (as the most recent comments were posted only 8 days ago).

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

      • That’s crazy how fast it escalated, especially when you only asked for additional sources and information. How have you dealt with all the comments and attention?

        Comment by Kaitlin Morgan — July 29, 2017 @ 8:25 am

      • In terms of the attention, every couple of years i try to go out and get a new blog entry on the topic. As for the comments, it is good practice to respond to everyone that leaves a comment on your blog – so I respond to each and every one of them in some fashion.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 8:31 am

  8. Yes, there are situations with blogging that make me uncomfortable. One is that I feel a bit stifled in posting my true opinions and voice. As a teaching professional, I find that you have to often filter yourself for fear of repercussions. I work in a traditional, small-town feel city in North Alabama. We are ahead of the curve technologically, but Alabamians tends to be ridiculously conservative (to me at least). So, with these things in the back of my mind, I worry about posting something unpopular. For example, learning styles is addressed in the teacher evaluation system here, but after several doctoral courses and years teaching, I see it as more of a preference. (No wonder students seem so narcissistic and entitled, right?!) When I tried talking about it with a colleague, I got “the look.” It was like invasion of the body snatchers. So, yeah, as teachers, we have to careful.

    The way I have been dealing with it and will continue to do so entails keeping it as positive as possible if I am giving a specific example about my district, and if it could potentially be controversial, then I try to generalize more. So far, I don’t think I have that much blog traffic outside of this class, but once I get some posting momentum built up, then I feel I will be more comfortable in sharing via social media with a broader audience. I’ve been thinking ahead to the blog plan, and I will be trying to curate and write teacher targeted posts regarding tools and tips for the classroom. These types of posts are safe, but in the event that I get bold enough to tackle an edtech trend, I’ll keep it basic and broad.

    Comment by Angela Wagner — July 26, 2017 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

    • Angela, it only takes a single upset parent or community member – or even some random Internet troll – to take what you deem to be a safe, general entry and turn it into something quite different. While not a blogging example, there was a recent faculty member that wrote an article about how most marble art from Greek and Roman times was originally painted in bright colours. But today we just see these statutes as white marble and, as such, some White supremacy groups have been using that art as evidence for the greatest of being White (or why White is the best race). Several right wing news organizations took that article and misrepresented it to state that the author was arguing that the white marble art contributed to White supremacy. It became (and still is, as this is a recent example) quite the episode in this academic’s public career.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

      • Random aside: I just saw a video on this exact topic come across my Facebook feed last night, and I watched it for the first time. Sarah Bond, a professor at the University of Iowa – a classicist, was featured because of her article on ancient statues and polychromy. It was fascinating (and can be found here, if you’re interested: https://pjmedia.com/video/marble-statues-are-now-racist/). Is Sarah the ‘recent faculty member’ you’re referencing?

        Another random aside related to white supremacy (that’s ironically hilarious) – you have to see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLoel5EKT34 – nothing to do with your comment, really, but it is awesome.

        Comment by Kerri Patton — August 9, 2017 @ 8:14 pm

      • Yes, Sara Bond is the faculty member in question. There was a good piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about this issue as well.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — August 12, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

    • It is hard to have to tip-toe around tough topics especially when you feel as if your opinion is a valid one and has evidence to back it up. I too teach in a very small district and my mother works in the same building as I do. This makes it hard for me to sometimes have a voice all of my own because I have to think about how it would not only reflect upon myself, but also my mom. I think your plan sounds safe, but I do think that posting things true to your opinion every once in awhile could help to validate your blog. It is ultimately your choice to what you post but I bet a lot of other people are thinking the same things you are!

      Comment by rwaldmanblog — July 29, 2017 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

      • Ryann, in situations like this I am always more concerned with what others leave in the comments – as opposed to the judgement of teaching professionals that are producing the original content.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

  9. I have not run into any uncomfortable situations with blogging yet. The closest experience I have had was when my husband’s Facebook page was hacked last year. There was a conversation between two people that came up in his message board and he wasn’t a participant in the conversation. The conversation included a lot of personal details about their relationship and it was clearly not something that he really wanted to see. To this day, I have no idea about how this happened, but his response to it was to take his Facebook page down completely. He said that he really had no interest in using it anymore anyway.

    I really can’t foresee any issues with my blog as I’m using it purely to describe my EdTech experience. That being said, though, I’m sure I will say something at some point that someone will disagree with and hopefully we can have a friendly discussion about it. As a general rule, I try not to post things online about religion, politics, or anything else that people may find offensive or take the wrong way.

    I teach a section of First Year Seminar and we are required to have the director of the career center come speak to our class. Every year she warns the students about their online footprint. She tells them about how they shouldn’t post stuff online that they wouldn’t want their grandmother to be able to see. She tells the students that potential employers can Google them and find things on the internet that they may not want them to find. She is mostly referring to Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, but I think the same can be true for blogging. Many of the readings for this course have mentioned that blogs can be used as a kind of online diary and some may share way more information then they should.

    I do believe in free speech and so I don’t think that we should be so judgemental about what people post on their blogs. Who are we to say that someone should not rant about something they believe strongly in on their blog. But the fact of the matter is that we live in a world where everything can be found even after it is deleted. Employers are Googling job candidates. People shouldn’t have to blog under a different name; however, they must be willing to live with the consequences. There are those who are going to judge. They may lose out on a job just because the other candidates don’t expose themselves electronically.

    I have decided to deal with delicate situations by trying very hard not to put myself in them. I don’t friend any students on Facebook until after they graduate. I try not to discuss sensitive issues on social media because I like to avoid conflict as much as I can. I am not saying that people should limit their online activity to professional purposes. I can’t say that simply because I read many personal blogs that I enjoy, especially those about hiking and cheap activities to do with your kids. What people say shouldn’t necessarily come back to haunt them, but the fact of the matter is that it does. All of this said I will leave you with the advice someone once gave my husband: live your life like you’re running for congress, it will keep you out of most trouble.

    Comment by kellyspiese — July 26, 2017 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

    • Kelly, it isn’t just about what you write. Blogging, by its very nature, is an interactive medium. As such, what you write is designed to elicit public comment and while what you have written may be safe, what others contribute may not be. I’ve used this example several times above, but look at the entry “Questions About The School Of Tomorrow” that I wrote and then scroll through the comments that it generated (keeping in mind what I asked in the original blog entry. This is what can happen when you write for public consumption.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 26, 2017 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

      • Definitely a good example! I guess you never know what others are going to say about something you posted. It also made me realize that it would take a good bit of time, energy, and just the willingness to keep up with all of the comments. It is definitely important that you reply back to comments that are made especially if the person commenting is taking something you posted in a different direction.

        Comment by kellyspiese — July 30, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

      • Kelly, the timely interaction with those that comment on your blog is important.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 8:15 pm

    • What you said about digital footprint is spot on. We need to inform students that once you hit “publish” or “post” their information is out there for anyone to see, although students need to have the opportunity to share their opinion in a respectful manner. I also, only accept students on Facebook after they have graduated, I don’t want to blur the line between professional and personal relationships.

      Comment by kendalcramer — July 30, 2017 @ 6:46 am | Reply

      • What you said reminded me of what can happen when you hit reply all. You have to make sure that what you say is really something that you want to put out there for everyone to see.

        Comment by kellyspiese — July 30, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

      • Kendal, you also want to keep in mind that your digital footprint also includes things others post about you. Not just what you post yourself.

        Kelly, the “reply all” is the bane of my existence. I have rarely seen it used effectively or appropriately.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 8:32 pm

  10. To me, blogging is a different mindset. I love social media and I have noticed recently how my different social media platforms have taken different paths. Facebook is where I share mostly with friends and family. I share mostly my family’s adventures. Instagram is now where I try to link to my YouTube channel. YouTube is where I most like to share my teaching an technology ideas through tutorials. Twitter is where I connect, track, and interact with my global professional learning network. It is fascinating to me just how far social media has come since I first had a MySpace page in 2005-2006.

    Blogging is most tied to my YouTube work. I usually blog about a video I have uploaded or a presentation I have made, but I use the platform to go in a bit more detail and provide more context. In blogging, I always am sensitive to giving credit when I gather ideas from other people. It hasn’t happened to me directly,or shall I say blatantly, but there is nothing worse than seeing your idea or technique “taken” by someone else. I have heard my peers talk about sitting through presentations where something created was being presented with out any credit being given. In the technology world with so many different platforms, it is very hard to monitor this type of activity. Plus, I don’t think enough educators are educated enough in the area of copyrights and trademarks, so it can be a complex problem.

    I feel the solution begins with a true focus on digital citizenship beginning with elementary age students. The digital world is the reality our kids live in today, and digital citizenship should be a core topic taught to all students. Common Sense Media created an entire digital citizenship curriculum that can be taught to students. You can find the curriculum at https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship. As as I often do, I also think more educators should work themselves through the course. It certainly taught me a lot.

    Digital Citizenship is something everyone can improve upon. Students and adults will come across uncomfortable and delicate situations and interactions on-line quite often, and I truly feel that more education and conversations in the way to make the on-line world a little more safe.

    Comment by Jake Lee — July 28, 2017 @ 8:52 am | Reply

    • Jake, one of the things that I think makes blogging different than these other social networks is that with Twitter and Facebook and almost all of these others it is your use and your comments that represent you. One of the big differences with blogs – unless you turn off the commenting features – is that it isn’t just what you write, but also what others’ write in response to your ideas.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

      • I have to say that this is a major take away from this course. I have really enjoyed learning about the different types of blogs. I have always checked my blogging stats and it gets a fair amount of visits each year. However, I am learning that I am not really engaging my readers in anyway other than just presenting ideas and information. Your comment represents one of my major realizations and I look forward to engaging my “audience” more in the future.

        Comment by Jake Lee — July 30, 2017 @ 11:28 am

      • Jake, speaking of blogging statistics – at the end of the day tomorrow I will post my own monthly statistics entry (and during EDTECH537 I try to be a bit more systematic about what I post in that entry).

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 8:42 pm

    • I agree that educators should be educated on copyright rules; like you said it is a complex problem. Educators need to know how and when to cite information so that credit is given to the correct people. At my school, we are required to teach the curriculum provided on Common Sense to every grade, in addition, every staff member must have a Common Sense Educator Certificate.

      Comment by kendalcramer — July 30, 2017 @ 6:58 am | Reply

      • I just left a private institution in Hawaii that didn’t implement the Common Core and truly believed in complete teach autonomy. However now that I am back on the mainland, I am almost certainly going into a public school that implements the Common Core so I have some learning to do. Any words of advice?

        Comment by Jake Lee — July 30, 2017 @ 11:32 am

      • Kendal, copyright is a complex issue. Having said that, one of the reasons to put things out there is to share them. While we would hope that folks correctly attribute it when they use it, by making things available publicly that is the risk that we run.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

    • Thanks for posting the link on the digital citizenship curriculum. I know it is designed for K12 students, but I think it may be useful for my first-year seminar students. I ran into a situation two years ago where there was some nasty bullying going on through Snapchat among the first-year class. Normally, I would stay out of this kind of situation, but in this case, I thought that I should comment and offer my advice and suggestions to the students who were dealing with this issue.

      Comment by kellyspiese — July 30, 2017 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

      • Snapchat is a difficult one to deal with, because its selling feature is a lie. Every image shared on Snapchat is stored on their servers, so it doesn’t just disappear. One great presentation I saw on the topic was from https://www.alwaysconnected.org/, who keynoted a conference I attended. It was a great session!

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

  11. At this point I have not experienced anything that has made me feel uncomfortable, but when school is back in session and my students are lurking around on the internet, I feel as if things might change. I am a young teacher, one of the youngest in my school, and I already have to work very hard to ensure there is a solid line of separation between myself and my students. It is very common for them to find me on all of my social media accounts and attempt to friend me even though I always deny them. Some have even gone as far as to try to add me via their parents accounts so they can see what I post. My concerns lie with allowing my students to comment on what I post on my work blog. I fear that they will feel as if it is a place for us to socialize rather than a tool for learning. I don’t want my blog to turn in to the place to send Ms. Waldman memes like my email is turning into. I don’t think that they would say anything inappropriate, but Jr High students don’t always think before they act.

    I also fear that parents will comment and be crazy people on my blog. I want to use it as a tool to be able to answer parent questions quickly, but I have had parents in the past, like I’m sure we all have had, that email me ALL the time and sometimes get angry about things. I don’t want a public forum for them to let their anger out on if their child doesn’t receive the grade they were looking for. I also don’t want it to turn into a place where parents argue with each other because I have seen that through email as well.

    To sum it up, I guess I have concerns about what other people are going to post on my blog since I can’t control everything. I can control what I approve to put on it, but I can’t control what they say.

    Comment by Ryann Waldman — July 28, 2017 @ 8:58 am | Reply

    • Ryann, one of the things to give serious thought to is how you justify approving some parent comments and not approving others. I wonder if that kind of practice would simply generate more work for you in other mediums, as I suspect the kinds of comments that wouldn’t be approved are going to come from the kinds of parents that would not let something like that drop easily.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

      • Do you think it would be appropriate to turn off comments so I don’t have to worry about it or do you think it is really important to be able to allow comments?

        Comment by rwaldmanblog — July 29, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

      • It depends on what you want to achieve with your blog. For example, if it is just a place to showcase student work or provide information (like an online version of a bulletin board that you may have in your room), then there is no need for interaction and thus no need to have comments enabled.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

    • Tough position to be in, Ryann. I think I’d delete any student comments that don’t adhere to blog policies (assuming you can create and enforce your own policies). Make sure you state them as a pinned post at the top of your blog once the original post has been read by the typical number of readers you get. Is that an option? As for crazy parents, remind them of the purpose of your blog and ask them to contact you via another method for any issues that can’t be resolved quickly. Bottom line, make policies and stick to them.

      Comment by Todd Koenig — July 29, 2017 @ 4:45 am | Reply

      • Todd, given the public nature of blogs, do you really think “remind them of the purpose of your blog and ask them to contact you via another method” would end the issue if they were crazy enough to post something inappropriate on a teacher’s blog in the first place? I ask because these are the kinds of issues that you do have to think through to the logical conclusions because at some point they will happen.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 7:22 am

      • I feel as if it is easier to hold students to policies then it is to hold parents. I would hope that parents would respect the nature of the blog and understand that it is for academic purposes only but I have had a few parents in my three short years teaching that I could see getting angry and saying what ever they want to say on any platform they can get their hands on.

        Comment by rwaldmanblog — July 29, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

      • Ryann, I can assure you that you will encounter more parents like those that you have in your first three years… :) They exist everywhere and never seem to cease!

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

  12. As of right now, I have not encountered a situation that left me feeling worried. However, as an educator I can see how not being careful in choosing subject matter can veer off into a non-school approved subject. I believe the key to making sure it stays on track, with students especially, is to constantly reiterate with them the importance of language and staying on topic. Then as the educator, discipline those that do not follow the rules. Now, make sure to instruct them that these rules are for our classroom assignments. If they want to create a non-school related blog on their own then they may do so, but be sure to educate them on how to be a good digital citizen.

    In the case of disagreements, modeling (in my opinion) is the best practice to show them how to respond respectfully and tactfully. Free speech in a non-controlled environment is ok, but in a school environment, we as educators need to make sure they can still get their point across without using language that could be deemed offensive. Basically, one of the things I have always told my students when they are writing is…if they can’t show it to the principal, their grandmother or their teacher then they should not put it on paper…physical and digital!

    Comment by Jaci Prance — July 28, 2017 @ 9:48 am | Reply

    • Jaci, unless you have a password protected blog or one that doesn’t allow comments, your blog is essentially a non-controlled environment – not a school environment. And regardless of how you model respect and tactfulness, what do you do with that one disgruntled parent or member of the public or just some Internet troll?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

      • When I wrote my comment I was thinking of the students creating a blog specifically for our classroom or create it like this one…where I supply a prompt and they comment on it. Since I am mainly teaching middle school at the moment I do not feel comfortable with allowing them to start a blog “out in the open” so to speak because I can not monitor it. Google Classroom is what I have in mind. With that being said, how I would handle “one disgruntled parent or member of the public or just some Internet troll” would depend on the comment. I could leave it set up to moderate comments….but that slows down the communication. To be honest, I will have to think about it.

        Comment by Jaci Prance — July 29, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

      • Well, this one is out in the open. So even if you maintain control, others will be able to find it. Comment moderation does slow things down – although you could do what I have done and moderate just the first one, then folks have free reign to comment. That way after the first time, your students wouldn’t be slowed down.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

    • I totally agree with what you said about subject matters remaining school appropriate. I think a good thing to remind is that they personal blogs can also be read by people at school and that they can be held responsible on a non-school sanctioned blog depending on what they post. We had a student this year who was posting very explicit and not true things on a personal blog about teachers and other students at the school. Her parents were angry that she was getting in trouble at school for things that she was posting about at home. Both students and parents need to be reminded that students are responsible for things they post that involve any school related topic even if the blog is not school related.

      Comment by rwaldmanblog — July 29, 2017 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

      • Ryann, from a teacher perspective, if you list your school on your blog in some jurisdictions it is considered an official endorsement by the school (and by extension the school district, as the legal entity). This reality – at least in these jurisdictions – also means that the school and district can be held legally liable for things you post on your blog.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 2:48 pm

      • A student at my son’s school a similar incident. They were bullying other students off school grounds and on non-school owned devices. However, the trouble carried over to the classroom which in turn made it a school issue.
        I understand the difficulty in maintaining control and that may be my ultimate fear in establishing blogs in my classroom. I would like to think that as long as I educate on digital citizenship that most of my students will stay on target. However, I know there are always a few that rebel against anything and will try to outwit administration.

        Comment by Jaci Prance — July 30, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

      • Jaci, this is one of the benefits of cyber space – the fact that it doesn’t stay off school property means that the school can actually get involved. Prior to the Internet, the school had little authority with this kind of behaviour. Not that it is good in any circumstance, but it does provide the school more options.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 9:15 pm

  13. After reading of Harvard rescinding at least 10 offers of acceptance in June when they discovered offensive memes on prospective students’ Facebook accounts, this week’s course readings were yet another reminder that words, ideas, and images matter and what is posted online can dramatically impact one’s future for good or for ill. My professional blog focuses on improving instruction in the secondary ELA classroom and hopefully, the ideas therein will prove helpful to the classroom instruction of those who read it. It is unlikely that I would write about divisive issues as it would completely go against the constructive spirit of the blog itself; however, I have included a caveat phrase on my site that notes my posts are my own and not necessarily those of my employer should any issues arise. For any who wish to spark controversy on my site in the comments section, I have set my posts to “moderate comments” so that I can delete any which either do not advance the original conversation or are offensive. Thoughtful discourse, even if in opposition, can be extremely helpful towards growth and those are the comments which I welcome.

    Comment by @naomi_jaynes — July 28, 2017 @ 11:07 am | Reply

    • Naomi, while it is useful to have that kind of caveat phrase, from a legal perspective if you formally identify yourself as being a teacher at X on your blog than many state courts have decided that you officially represent them. As an example, if you go to my Twitter profile at https://twitter.com/mkbtuc, I was informed by our legal counsel at Touro that if I had written “Michael Barbour is an Associate Professor of Instructional Design at TUC” – as opposed to just “Michael Barbour is an Associate Professor of Instructional Design” – that in the eyes of California law I was representing TUC and that my tweets would need to be approved by the university before I posted them. Something to investigate in your own jurisdiction.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

      • I’ve always wondered if it was necessary to have the caveat phrase. My school encourages social media presence, but they have never addressed whether or not we should explicitly say if we are part of the district. Because of this, I avoid addressing specific individuals or any issues going on at the school or the district. I’m definitely going to have to ask!

        Comment by Kaitlin Morgan — July 29, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

      • The caveat is nice to have when you might be asked about it by an administrator – basically you get a chance to say that you did everything to represent the fact that this was a personal medium and that your contributions were your own opinions and did not reflect policy. Having said that, from a legal perspective it is much more important to not include any identification of your employer. If you list them, a case can be made in most jurisdictions that you were representing them in a more professional capacity. Even if a claim like that didn’t hold up, you have to ask yourself whether or not the angst that it will cause your school and your district is worth having it included.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 3:35 am

  14. I love the act of blogging and the ability to use a more relaxed approached to writing. I was so drilled for so long to do formal essays, research papers, and lab reports that I grew to dislike writing. Blogging has given me the chance to explore a more comfortable style for me and lets me share my ideas. I think that leads to one problem that I have, which is separating my opinions from my posts. I think I tend to discuss things on my blog with a very one-sided approach, but I am hoping to continue to grow in my ability to find a balance between my sense of writing style and my personal opinions. I really appreciate the chance to read the blogs of my classmates because it allows me to see how others approach discussions and how our thought processes compare and contrast.

    Comment by kristingaynor — July 28, 2017 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

    • Kristin, it is interesting in that one of the reasons I began this blog in the first place was to serve as a place to play with ideas related to my research interests and to be able to interact with others more informally, without having the demands of formal academic writing (or having enough content to generate full conference papers or journals articles/book chapters. The funny thing is that this blog rarely serves that purpose these days. For the most part I copy and paste relevant items to the blog multiple times throughout the day (actually, I tend to have the items set and ready to release at given times the day before – sometimes days in advance), and I don’t get a chance to play with ideas related to K-12 distance, online, and/or blended learning that much. And I rarely get to have the kinds of interactions with folks like I am having on this post.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

      • Hi Michael,
        it’s interesting to hear about how blogging has changed in use for you. I think that we often see tools morphing in the way we intended to use it. For example, I originally used twitter as a means of communication; now, I use it for professional use.
        As mentioned, I really enjoy the informality of a blog and how it doesn’t have such strict rules. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I gravitate towards twitter.
        Thanks for your response!

        Comment by kristingaynor — July 31, 2017 @ 11:47 am

      • Yes, the free flow of text is much nicer for me – or at least easier and quicker (when I have the time) – in terms of at least the time it takes.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 31, 2017 @ 11:54 am

  15. I haven’t encountered any uncomfortable situations in the few weeks that we’ve been blogging. The only time I paused or hesitated was during the creation of a comment that I posted on someone else’s blog. I have a thing about confrontation…I don’t like it. And I don’t want to be offensive. But I do enjoy expressing my opinion even if it differs from that of others, which it often does. So in the situation where I want to express a differing opinion, I find myself thinking through very carefully how to say what I want to say. Of course, I want to do it succinctly but respectfully. The point is, that’s the only instance I can foresee at this point in my blogging experience things getting uncomfortable or tricky. I know I’m limited in my experience which makes me naive regarding the issues that can arise. Experience is valuable.

    At the end of last school year, I spent several weeks blogging with my 6th-grade students. That quickly revealed some areas of concern which have already been discussed in these comments, such as, students blogging about non-school related topics, the quality of student posts and comments, and the appropriateness of student blogs and comments. As with anything in education, with the right focus and energy spent training students, these concerns are minimized. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with any delicate situations yet, but I now know I will change my procedure for blogging in the classroom. First, I will include a disclosure page on our class blog. Second, I will inform parents about the existence and process of posting and commenting on the class blog to avoid any surprises should an uncomfortable situation arise. Third, I will spend even more time training students to blog correctly and appropriately. We really did well for our first go round, but I’ve found some ways to eliminate a bit of fluff.

    Comment by tecchick — July 28, 2017 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

    • Becky, was the blogging you did open or closed (i.e., was it available to the public or not)? If it was open, how would you deal with situations where it wasn’t a student, but someone else that was commenting in an uncomfortable way? Say a disgruntled parent or some random Internet troll?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 28, 2017 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

      • In keeping with my post below, I would definitely ignore a troll and would also ignore the rantings of a parent unless they persisted. Then I would respond with a lesson on Internet etiquette and a call to action, i.e. contact me via e-mail or telephone. I would ignore all future negative interaction from that parent on the blog. ~Todd

        Comment by Todd Koenig — July 28, 2017 @ 10:44 pm

      • Todd, ignore how? Simply not approve their comments to the blog or approve them, but just not respond? I ask because as I indicated to Ryann above is how you justify approving some parent comments and not approving others? Wouldn’t this practice would simply generate more work for you in other mediums, as I suspect the kinds of comments that wouldn’t be approved are going to come from the kinds of parents that would not let something like that drop easily? On the other side of the coin, if you approve the comment and then leave it unanswered, what will others think when they see that item there?

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 7:19 am

      • Perhaps my approach is a bit uncommon, but it’s similar to my other comment above so I’ll just address it here. My point is that if I create a space for others to interact in for a specific purpose, or set of purposes, then I would try to preserve the environment as best I could. I would not entertain troll postings or anyone else who does not fit in with that purpose. I would approve all posts by default, but not respond to trolls and respond firmly to parents — asking for the conversation to move elsewhere. More work, maybe, but it lets the parent know that you aren’t trying to avoid issues (NB: Really crazy parents or repeat troublemakers, ugh…. ) but don’t engage in them through the blog. I would leave that comment there so that other parents know how this is dealt with.

        Blog topics can often be controversial but I don’t believe you intended to enter into a religious debate by posting that SoT research request. It’s clear that you got a lot of first-time readers that were only interested in defending their beliefs, trashing yours, or some variation of that. Bottom line, many of them weren’t interested in engaging with your question so that may have been a good time to not use keywords in the title of the post and just leave it to your regular, loyal audience. Is this the wrong way to look at it?

        I’m new to blogging so I genuinely don’t know these answers, but your blog is very professional in nature. I guess I’m just confused as to why you allowed a religious debate to take place at all. That may just be the name of the game sometimes.

        Comment by Todd Koenig — July 29, 2017 @ 7:55 am

      • Just so you know, I’m not suggesting that I have answers. I’m only pushing everyone to think through the larger (and in some cases smaller) issues so that you’ll at least have a starting point if it does happen to you.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 8:00 am

    • It was a closed. I wouldn’t have been “allowed” to have an open blog, our school is very strict with their walled garden. I must say I agree in this situation. I wouldn’t have chosen to have an open blog with 6th-grade students.

      However, pretending it was open…my first instinct is to treat trolls and parents completely differently. I would delete, block and ignore a troll. In 6th grade I’m not yet focused on handling outsiders, we’re still focused on responding appropriately to each other. Perhaps in a high school class, we could have that conversation and address the issue. A parent needs to be dealt with. I would first try to respond to their anger or disapproval and find out what the real problem is. If it turns out there is nothing that can be done within reason to appease them, I think I’d let the comments ride in the blog. What are your thoughts, professor? How would you/have you handled trolls and disgruntled parents?

      Comment by tecchick — July 29, 2017 @ 8:04 am | Reply

      • While I agree that a walled garden does have some benefit for that age group, I wouldn’t rule out opening it up. For example, one year one of the teachers at Russell Street School noticed all of the US-based traffic coming to his site during the time I taught the course. That teacher reached out to me, after figuring out where the traffic was coming from, and asked that the EDTECH537 students interact with some of his Year 5 and Year 6 students (our grades 4 and 5). Their students got a real thrive out of it.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 8:29 am

    • One suggestion that I thought of to keep student’s blogs and comments on appropriate topics is to create a rubric or expectations for both blog entries and comments

      Comment by kendalcramer — July 30, 2017 @ 7:15 am | Reply

      • Kendal, I think the students can be better controlled with grades and just the fact that you see them daily and have a sense of authority over them. The ones that you have to prepare for are the ones that you can’t control – parents, the public, etc..

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 9:17 pm

  16. Michael, I think you have experienced the worst of the potential hazards opening yourself up to the world can bring. Granted, yours was just random targeting and, from that perspective, I guess it could be worse if someone was really after you personally. This is my biggest concern with blogging. Others have already mentioned this here, but I will do my best to say that there are ways we can protect ourselves from trolls and others who have strong, opposing opinions. Here are a few.

    1. This probably isn’t our first time around the block. I think most of us go through the “I can’t believe he said that” phase. I still have these moments when reading comments on YouTube or a news website but I tend to let them pass. Most of us have enough experience that we recognize this type of malicious nonsense when it comes up. We learn by experience that the worst thing you can do is respond and hopefully you have enough credibility with your readers that you don’t need to anyway.

    2. Develop a thick skin. It’s hard to accept negative or hurtful comments and our instinct is to either hang our head or fight back. Again, see #1 above. Most of us have come across these folks before and won’t be swayed by their juvenile banter. I ran across this the other day on my YouTube channel. Someone made a less than polite comment about one of my behavior habits. My first instinct was to figure out how to correct it. Just as quickly, I let it go. You can’t make all people happy all the time and we tend to think social media and blogs are us showing the best sides of ourselves (physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc.). It’s great to strive for these things but we also need to let ourselves off the hook as well.

    3. Stay just left or right of neutral most of the time and write respectfully. Focus on facts and ask your readers what they think. If you have strong feelings on the subject, be sure to spend a little bit of time discussing any merits the other side might have. This keeps opposers from jumping on defense so quickly.

    In regards to posting in my own name, or worrying about what my future boss will see, I’m not worried about it. I think we must be intentional with our posts and be careful with our word choice, but we must also own up to our beliefs. Otherwise, check your privacy settings and make sure that only “friends” can see your libelous spats or conspiracy theories.

    ~Todd Koenig

    Comment by Todd Koenig — July 28, 2017 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

    • Todd, I think your distinction between random targeting and coming after you personally is an important distinction. I also believe that the medium is important too. In the example I used earlier of the “Questions About The School Of Tomorrow” entry was on my blog where I chose to approve all of those comments, and those people found me because of the topic – not because of me. The example I shared in Moodle about my experience with Twitter, that was a personal, targeted attack against me and the platform that it occurred on did little to help me out and I had little administrative recourse when it happened.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  17. I have not had much in the way of uncomfortable situations as I have been blogging in this class. All of my classmates comments have been civil and constructive, and I have had good discussions with a few of them. However, I could see situations arising in a different setting. Whenever discussing any matter on the internet, a great deal of nuance and meaning that would be conveyed conversationally is lost, and people will typically read things in the harshest way possible. When combined with drama happening outside of the classroom, this loss of body language and tonal cues can turn into the kindling for a flame war. One way to handle this would be to have a class netiquette policy (e.g., http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/garinsavage/502/netiquette.html). As I teach adults, a quick reminder that they are in fact talking to people is often enough to ensure a maintenance of professional behavior. If a student continues to post comments meant to cause arguments rather than learning, the student’s grade would come to reflect this.

    As far as outside influences or commenters are concerned, it would depend on how serious the problem was. Comment moderation is probably the best way to handle most of these issues, and older learners could probably handle this on their own. However, for younger learners or when the comments are particular harmful (e.g., threats towards the student, insults about a student’s race/gender/religion/orientation, etc) and the teacher feels that have the student constantly read them to moderate them would be difficult for the student to do, it is possible to set up an edublog such that the teacher moderates all post comments. As a decent human being, I find it hard to believe that someone would be that dedicated to cruelty, but it is the Internet, and it’s always best to have a plan in place, just in case.

    Comment by Garin Savage — July 29, 2017 @ 2:10 am | Reply

    • Garin, what do you do when the people commenting on your blog are following the bounds of netiquette, but are still not reflective of what you want to present to the world in your space? I’ve use this example above, but if you look at the comments on the entry “Questions About The School Of Tomorrow,” I’d argue that few – if any – of the people that left comments were beyond what would be contained in most netiquette policies (i.e., they were generally following netiquette standards). But as you can see the thread there was clearly not what I was looking for, nor is it reflective of my own worldwide on these kinds of issues. Yet if you were to search for “A.C.E. Curriculum” or “School of Tomorrow” my blog entries on the topic are almost always on the first page.

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 29, 2017 @ 7:11 am | Reply

      • When the blog is a class blog and external commenting is minimal, I would think that a few pointed questions by the instructor would be enough to largely get the conversation back on track. But that’s when the conversation is still relatively small.

        When the blog is actively used by the public, like your post, I am honestly not sure exactly what you would do to pull that back. I suppose you could always add a post-script to the original post, but certain hot-button issues are going to set people off regardless of what you actually say or ask. A follow-up blogpost could address some of the major themes in the comments and perhaps reset the conversation, but that doesn’t make the original post less searchable. Is there a good solution when dealing with the public?

        Comment by Garin Savage — July 30, 2017 @ 9:42 pm

      • I’m not sure there is a good solution, but I do believe that one of the things that teachers need to do is to think through some of these issues and to have at least some plan that they are comfortable with in place just in case some of these things might happen. So if you are going to have a blog that isn’t a walled garden – i.e., totally closed to the public, then you need to be sure you’ve got at least some initial thoughts on how you might handle situations when folks beyond your students find and start interacting with your blog.

        Comment by Michael Barbour — July 30, 2017 @ 9:48 pm

  18. A very interesting topic. I have blogged a tiny bit prior to this class and I have to say that I have never been faced with a situation that I felt was awkward or uncomfortable. My first real experience with blogs was when I began my education career 7 years ago. I followed and avidly read several blogs created by other teachers who shared their trials and successes in the classroom. It was riveting and I gleaned so many ideas for my own classroom. It was great. The idea that blogging can “expose” an individual is intriguing.

    Teaching is a second career for me and I came from a profession that welcomed, if not encouraged, very strong opinions and professional convictions. I was not accustomed to censoring or monitoring my behavior online or off. I have several friends and family members who are educators and I would often hear them talk about the “horror” of running into a current or former student at the grocery store with a 12 pack of beer or a couple bottles of wine in their cart. They were of age, did that make them any less of a professional or a person? As “public servants” is the expectation for our conduct outside of the job different than others? I think so. I felt this way when I attended a staff party recently and a coworkers husband, who also happens to be the chief of police for our town, was enjoying SEVERAL adult beverages. He was not driving, he was not on the job or on call, so why did I this make me slightly uncomfortable?

    I know my response is on a tangent from the original prompt, but I felt while reading the blog entries that my feelings about what I am willing to put out there for the whole web to see are different now that I am a teacher. I feel that I have a different responsibility to myself, my students, and my community. This is not to say that I live my life differently that I did before becoming an educator, but that what I choose to share with the public at large is different that how I previously felt.

    Comment by Rebecca Davis — July 30, 2017 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

    • Rebecca, you mentioned “I followed and avidly read several blogs created by other teachers who shared their trials and successes in the classroom.” Can you provide an example of two of some of the trials that these other’s shared?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 31, 2017 @ 7:02 am | Reply

  19. Lots of ways to look at this question as noted in many of the above conversations. I have been a pretty active user and developer of content on the internet since 1995. Much of what I was putting up back in the mid to late 90’s was design. I guess one could look at it as sort of a graphic blog. Because everything is up there on the internet, many of my old designs can still be found. I look back at some of these web pages and cringe. Not just because of the limitations of designing internet pages, but also because I was still feeling my way around in this new medium.

    This class and blogging in particular has been a little tough for me because while I do like to share information, it is the way in which I write it out that makes me a bit uneasy. Am i saying things on my blog right, in a positive way. Are they coming across to my readers like I think they should. Can they be misinterpreted? (story of Justine Sacco https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/pr-exec-fired-racist-tweet-aids-africa-apology )

    This question comes a funny time, as a week ago I blogged about how tough change is in Higher Ed. I also have my blog linked to my twitter account, which has made me think about things in a slightly different way. So, I was walking by the presidents office (of my college that is) and just happened to run into him as he stepped outside his office. We exchanged greetings and then he looked at me and started to say something about a post that I wrote. He didn’t mention the specific post (I do not do any sort of blogging or posting for the college), but something about higher ed and …. then another person came by and he hurried off to a meeting.

    So, I was left there not quite knowing what he was saying or even if it was a positive or negative thing. However, immediately my mind went to the blog post and wow, how did the president of the college know that I had posted something about higher ed? I don’t really know the outcome, but it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable and really think about what I was posting.

    It’s funny because I really like it when I get feedback and comments on a post or social network like twitter, but this incident did make me think much more deeply about my actions, my posts and my digital legacy.

    Comment by Dan Case — July 30, 2017 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

    • Dan, is this the first time that one of your superiors has discussed your blog or Twitter activity with you in person?

      Comment by Michael Barbour — July 31, 2017 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  20. […] EDTECH537 – Potential Hazards Of Blogging […]

    Pingback by Statistics for July 2017 | Virtual School Meanderings — August 11, 2017 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  21. […] Potential Hazards Of Blogging […]

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