Week Eight – Cyberspace

In class, we discussed about the reading by Graham Bassett (2003). The questions (by Veronica, Cathy and Kye-Ling) that we answered in literature circles were:

1. What is the difference between meatspace and cyberspace? What are the benefits and risks that may arise from students engaging in cyberspace activities?

Meatspace: Physically seeing someone in the flesh

Cyberspace: Mainly online and digitally done

Benefits: 

  • Helps with shyness (positively and negatively – makes them feel more open and encourages people not to be too open)
  • Builds confidence
  • Progress (allows learners to learn at their own pace, rather than teachers teaching everything)

Negatives:

  • Stranger danger
  • Technical problems (ie. viruses and spam)

2. What are some preventative measures that teachers can implement in order to prevent cyberspace issues from arising?

I have mentioned the answer to this question in an earlier post, the scenario that I had occurred and also listed some of the preventative measures. I will re-post the same information as stated before. The only reason why I had posted that blog post beforehand was it generated more interest for me. Glynis mentioned the original scenario to us, and we were baffled at how to respond, but we discussed it and reached a conclusion.

Teachers have a duty of care in the classroom, but if a scenario like this (look below) happens in the classroom, what would you do?

A teacher had set up an entire lesson by scaffolding and using a remote website hosted in America. The entire class constructed a survey using the mentioned website. One of the students used the survey, but inappropriately. The student created a malicious survey which received lots of attention from classmates. The teacher went to school the next day and almost had to resign.

Could this teacher foresee that the student was going to create something inappropriate from the website? This particular student was on a scholarship and that scholarship was soon rescinded. Should the teacher have foreseen it? Should they have introduced the website from America? Where does the responsibility lie for the teacher? …Where does it end?

Another example was given in the classroom:

If the teacher teaches the student how to write using pen, if the student writes something slander, is it the teacher’s responsibility?

When it is a survey and online, everyone can see it – the public nature of information can hurt a person’s feelings. Nowadays, Facebook and other social networking websites can automatically share surveys or results. It would’ve happened eventually.

So, where does the responsibility end? Teachers can’t be available 24/7 to police what goes on between the students. Although, the one of the many possible faults to the first scenario would be that the teacher didn’t give enough information to the students during the briefing on the activity at hand. The teacher could not have anticipated the slander that has happened. She could have briefed the students about ethical and moral issues. This is just another example of cause and effect. Consequences apply when information that would be reminiscent of cyberbullying is stored online. Once it is online, it’s not as easy to take back.

3. Whilst on practicum what sort of cyberspace activities did your students engage in? Were there any preventative measures implemented already? If not, how did you overcome this?

Although I personally haven’t been on practicum yet, during my last practicum I didn’t get much interaction with cyberspace. However, I did utilise some videos from YouTube. This was controlled because I had the videos in my possession.

A few other experiences that others had were that students that tried to access the internet couldn’t access certain websites because they were filtered by the Department of Education. This filtering system has allowed students unable to access websites that may contain phishing scams, viruses or anything that could potentially harm a school computer and network. By having these filtering systems set-up, it can limit information that would seem genuinely useful for educational purposes. The Department of Education doesn’t personally go through individual websites to check whether they are safe to access. 

One of my classmate’s experience was the ‘CyberSmart’ program that the school held. It was similar to a game that was operated in the classroom. The task at hand was to present the students with a manual where they would be acting as cyber detectives. During this operation, some parents, teachers and the principal were in the far end of the room on computers, attempting to distract the students via instant messages to go off-task. The goal of this exercise was to see which students would fall trap to the instant messages. If they did, they were at risk because this is what could happen without the control of the teachers.

Reference: Bassett, G. (2003). A School’s duty of care for students to whom it gives access to cyberspace: Data in (Content Regulation) and Data Out (Privacy).

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