Rules of Engagement for 21st Century Learning Environments

(This document is based on the Arapaho High School Blogging Policy)
Click here to view the Internet Safety Video from Little Public Schools.

This is a set of general guidelines for participation in Web 2.0 Learning Environments. All social networking sites such as Diigo, Wikispaces, Twitter, blogs, and nings are considered an extension of the classroom and therefore are subject to these guidelines as well as the rules and regulations of VALTS. The use of school computers is limited to assigned schoolwork; personal blogs (or other networking sites) that do not pertain to classwork at VALTS should not be accessed from school computers. These guidelines are not meant to be exhaustive and do not cover every contingency. If you are ever in doubt about the appropriateness of an item - ask a teacher.

Safe and Responsible Blogging
The most basic guideline to remember when using many Web 2.0 tools is that they are an extension of your classroom. You should not write anything on these sites that you would not say or write in your classroom. Use common sense, but if you are ever in doubt ask a teacher or administrator whether or not what you are considering posting is appropriate. If you are going to err, err on the safe side. Here are some specific items to consider:

The use of Web 2.0 tools are considered an extension of your classroom. Therefore, any speech that is considered inappropriate in the classroom is inappropriate on these spaces. This includes, but is not limited to, profanity; racist, sexist or discriminatory remarks; personal attacks.

  1. Web 2.0 tools are used primarily for learning, either as extensions of conversations and thinking outside of regular class time, or as the basis for beginning new classroom discussions. Either way, be sure to follow all rules and suggestions that are offered by your teachers regarding appropriate posting in your class.

  1. Web 2.0 tools are designed to allow you to express your ideas – therefore, agree or disagree with the idea, not the person. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to be uncivil. Use constructive criticism and use evidence to support your position. Read others’ posts carefully – often in the heat of the moment you may think that a person is saying one thing, when really they are not.

  1. Try not to generalize. Sentences that start with words like “All” (e.g., “All teachers,” “All administrators,” “All liberals,” “All conservatives”) are typically going to be too general.

  1. Even though most of the tools we will use in class are private do not treat them as such. Whatever you post on a blog can be read by anyone and everyone on the Internet. Even if you delete a post or comment, it has often already been archived elsewhere on the web. Do not post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, your best friend, your worst enemy, or a future employer to read.

  1. Post safely. NEVER post personal information on the web (including, but not limited to, last names, personal details including address or phone numbers, or photographs). (Note: The advice to not use your last name is for your protection. Teachers may choose to use their last names for their posts/comments.) Do not, under any circumstances, agree to meet someone you have met over the Internet.

  1. Because your login to the various sites is typically linked to your profile, any personal account you create in class is directly linked to your other accounts and must be kept as private as possible. In addition to following the information above about not sharing too much personal information (in your profile or in any posts/comments you make), you need to realize that anywhere you use that login links back to your class blog. Therefore, anywhere that you use that login (posting to a separate personal blog, commenting on someone else's blog, etc.), you need to treat the same as a school blog and follow these guidelines. You should also monitor any comments you receive on your personal blog and - if they are inappropriate - delete them. If you would like to post or comment somewhere and not follow these guidelines, you need to create a separate login to the blogging site so that it does not connect back to your class blog. You may not use that login from school computers. We would still recommend you follow the portion of these guidelines that address your personal safety (e.g., not posting personal information, etc.)

  1. Linking to web sites from your blog or blog comments in support of your argument is an excellent idea. But never link to something without reading the entire article to make sure it is appropriate for a school setting.

  1. Use of quotations in a posts is acceptable. Make sure that you follow the proper formatting and cite the source of the quote.

  1. Pictures may be inserted into a posts. Make sure that the image is appropriate for use in a school document and copyright laws are followed. Do not post any images that can identify yourself or others. Do not identify people in comments that you post.