A Whole Can of Worms.

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Source: Giphy

This idea of posting online is such a can of worms in elementary and secondary teaching. There are so many implications, both obvious and more subtle.

Photo via: Heart Sisters

Posting class achievements and online work online is a way to show the world what educators do, which often occurs behind closed doors. Educating students can be a very isolated event and teachers can sometimes feel maligned by various interest groups. Teaching is an emotional labour and showing the fruits of that labour can feel really validating. It proves that teaching is an essential job and that students are learning things, despite it not being in a traditional fashion, like perhaps their parents and grandparents learned.

Photo via: Getting Smart

Students can feel value in their learning by seeing its applicability to the outside world: they can see immediately the impact what they do has on others and see other’s responses to their work.In this way students are exposed to the wider world, beyond their closed classroom doors. This prepares them in many ways for life after high school.

Photo via: Steven Smith

The world of work is in many ways about how you connect and to whom you connect. Being able to more easily through the internet and understand the trail you leave is now an essential skill. Networking is no longer just circulating at a cocktail party in your hometown; you can now wander the globe, making contacts literally everywhere.

In my context, a high school English teacher, the task is to get them to understand the power of their words: not just in the sense of what they say, but how they say it. Being articulate and using proper conventions is important when trying to get your message out. Being able to sound like you know what you’re talking about is almost half the battle. Spelling and grammar have not disappeared. Sure we have spellcheck, but it doesn’t do everything. Proofreading is still an essential skill.

However, there are issues when it comes to blasting the internet with your latest literary essay.

Infrequently, but still enough times for me to pause and reconsider my practice, the issue of custody appears.

This happens in two forms: custody of the materials I’m posting and physical custody of the child.


Who owns what I’ve posted online? Do I own it because it was turned into me? Does the student own it because they created it? Does the school or school board own it because it was created using their materials/technology? If it were to generate an income, to whom would it be paid? The person who uploaded it or the person who created it or the entity that provided the opportunity?

The second potential issue is with physical custody. There have been situations in schools where there has been an acrimonious breakup and there have been protection orders issued. A child’s safety may be compromised by putting their artifacts online, which can be traced with a little bit of tech wizardry.

This letter from the Peel District School Board and this one for British Columbia teachers gives some guidelines for teachers to follow regarding what to put when. By providing protections for both staff and students, the online world can be explored.


4 thoughts on “A Whole Can of Worms.

  1. What a thought-provoking post! Of course an English teacher would think of posting student work online in terms of custody or copyright! It only makes sense and you raise some really good questions! Who’s permission is necessary in order to post something like that for the whole online world to see? In my case, with the student’s creating their character profiles on social media, they are in complete charge of the publication of it. However, am I liable for what they post because they did it under my supervision? And then what if I had a brilliant student and I wanted to showcase their work because I was proud of them? Do I need their permission? Parent’s permission? Principal’s? I loved that you questioned this because I think in this day and age, when everything can be accessed at a touch of a button, we forget the simple rules like copyright and privacy. Nothing is really private anymore and once it’s online, it’s there for good, which opens up a whole other “can of worms.”


  2. You bring up a lot of really great questions. How does the school board monitor what it’s teacher’s are posting? Does it depend on the age of the students? or is it a case by case basis? Also there are risks involved with knowing what kids go to what school. Personally, I don’t feel overly comfortable with the world wide web knowing what school my kids go to. Maybe that is just something I have to get used to? I am not sure. How do you manage it in your classroom?

    Great post. Thanks!


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