Documentation:Digital Tattoo Case Studies Project/Education/Themes

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This page is for themes to draw on in creating teacher candidate case studies.

Themes

  • Common for teachers to avoid having a digital identity entirely.
  • This gives others more opportunity to control the teacher's digital footprint.
  • Teachers/teacher candidates can sense a lack of control about what information and how much information about them is online, which causes frustration and fear.
  • “Passive digital footprint” vs “active digital footprint”
  • Teacher candidates (and all teachers) can be impacted by what they put online themselves and by what their friends, family, colleagues, students, and community members put online about them.
  • Ensuring that friends and family are not posting about teachers/teacher candidates online requires a great deal of monitoring on the part of teachers.
  • Privacy -- Can be particularly concerning as teacher candidates transition from their roles as students to their roles in workforce.
  • Issues related to privacy, even when using password protected sites for personal and professional digital platforms: data mining, web tracking, spyware, unauthorized access to computer.
  • How private is "private?" How anonymous is "anonymous?"
  • Perceptions of other users (particularly co-workers, administrators, school board, students, parents of students)
  • Online identity could impact professional reputation
  • Not necessarily possible to separate your personal and professional identities online when it comes to the perceptions of others
  • Peel School Board notes in their policy that “Every time you communicate, whether it’s in-person or on social media, you shape public opinion about you, your profession, your school, your board and public education. Statements like, “Tweets are my own and don’t reflect my employer’s views,” don’t hold true for educators.”
  • Teacher candidates want to feel like they belong in the school(s) to which they’re assigned
  • How can a TC’s digital identity and use of digital platforms help or hinder this? How can the school/staff’s digital identity and use of digital platforms help or hinder this?
  • Engaging in digital platforms is important for teacher candidates as it aids in a sense of belonging and connection (positive impact on retention rates in teaching colleges) and keeps them engaged with technologies they can/will use in teaching.
  • Teacher-Student relationships
  • Social media/digital platforms can help teachers connect with students for school and assignment-related questions/assistance, but using personal platforms could also blur the line between teacher and friend.
  • Certain restrictions and policies could be viewed as censorship of teachers (potentially infringing on rights and freedoms)
  • Teachers are in a position to model positive digital identities and online interactions for their students.
  • Greater concern when using school’s internet and computers/devices
  • School boards own connection and browsing history
  • Cyberbullying
  • Teachers can be the targets of cyberbullying (causes concern in addition to the potential cyberbullying among students).
  • Copyright infringement
  • Would this concern extend to their digital identity outside the classroom?
  • Teachers are responsible for "[maintaining] public confidence in the teaching profession as a whole," and their digital identities are expected to maintain this as well.
  • Studies as far back as 1948 show that, for many teachers, a primary concern is the control that the public has over a teachers conduct, even out of school (Wash & Freeman, 2014, pg. 31).
  • Even outside of school hours, and even online, teachers are expected to maintain their roles as professionals.
  • Gender Bias
  • Is scrutiny and/or discipline applied more harshly depending on the teacher's gender?
  • Not all teachers plan on teaching for their entire career (even during the teacher candidate stage, many know that they plan to teach for less than ten years)
  • Will these teachers have different motivations and concerns when creating their digital identity/identities?
  • Teachers need to be cautious of their own posts, while also recognizing the ease with which their students can create posts about them on social media.
  • The concerns of teacher candidates and new teachers tend be centered on their "adequacy as teachers, their ability to maintain discipline, and being liked by students" (Brookhart & Freeman).
  • How might this impact their digital identities and use of social media?
  • Social media policies can vary by school district, depending on the unique characteristics and cultural values of the communities each district represents.
  • This variety and inconsistency can make it more challenging for teacher candidates to develop a clear understanding of the policies they will be expected to abide by.
  • This ambiguity and a lack of uniformity may contribute to a teacher's desire to stay offline.
  • The role that teachers play and the amount of input that teachers have in the creation of social media policies is unclear.
  • If teachers’ voices are not present in the discussion, the resulting policies may not be effective, realistic, or reasonable.
  • Teacher candidates all have different views regarding the type of digital identity or online posts that is appropriate for a teacher. Their opinion often depends on whether or not they believe teachers to be held to a higher standard online than other professionals (Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R., 2015, pg. 13).
  • Some teacher candidates do not believe that there is a difference in standards for teachers; others do believe that there is a difference.
  • Written standards vs. unwritten standards
  • Even when abiding by official policies, teachers may be concerned about administrators'/parents'/community's unwritten or unspoken expectations.

Common Themes in Policies

  • Never ‘friend’ or follow a student’s social media account.
  • VSB’s draft policy states to not ‘friend’ or follow any minor (19 or under) but it has been pointed out that many teachers could have family members or friends under 19 that they wish to follow.
  • Some recommend using a separate social media account for all professional online activity. This means that teachers could create social media pages just for class-related purposes and they could ‘friend’ or follow students and parents through this account.
  • Never post private information about students, others teachers, or administrators online.
  • This includes not posting photos of students and staff.
  • Some extend this to school districts and boards, but it has also been argued that directing teachers not to criticize a school board could be considered censorship.
  • “Never post something online that you wouldn’t show in class” (or a slight variation) is a very common rule used in policies and guidelines.
  • Conflicting advice regarding anonymous accounts/pseudonyms.
  • Some policies suggest using an alternate name or avatar to make it more difficult for students, parents, colleagues, and administrators to find you online, but others recommend using your real identity on any social media platforms.
  • Using your real identity could be far more beneficial in creating a positive digital identity (for professional development’s sake).
  • Obtain approval from administrators before creating social network accounts or profiles to be used for professional purposes (e.g. a Twitter account through which students and parents can ask questions about assignments).
  • Ask others not to tag you in photos or posts without your permission.

Questions and Concerns that Teacher Candidates Might Have

  • When should I use my personal devices and when should I be using computers provided by the school? Can I use both? What types of activities and digital platforms, if any, should I restrict to either a personal device or a work-provided computer?
  • what happens when I conduct an innocent search on a topic (toys) and get directed to a porn site and forget to close my tabs?
  • are pop up windows considered part of your search history?
  • public / school provided wi-fi - access to search history?
  • How much should I censor myself online (re: opinions/beliefs concerning politics, religion, entertainment, etc.), even when I’ve taken privacy settings into consideration?
  • Not only concerned about activity that could result in termination/not getting a hired; some kinds of activity may not result in losing a job, but may result in lowering others’ perceptions and a loss of respect.
  • TCs want staff/students/parents of students to like them--will this desire to be likeable/fit in with school’s culture keep them from having an authentic digital identity?
  • How formal is too formal? How formal is not formal enough? How concerned with “formality” should I be in my social networking?
  • What kinds of personal information should I put online for the sake of professional development? What should I not put online? (Aside from more obvious suggestions including pictures/posts that depict alcohol/drug use, swearing, hate speech, criticisms of co-workers/students, etc.)
  • What type of digital presence/activity could a teacher be fired/not hired for? What is the difference between a post that means you lose a job and a post that others may not like, but is not actually fireable?
  • Could restricting access to my social network profiles have a negative impact?
  • Could it send the message that I have something to hide/that my posts are negative and that’s why I don’t want people to see them?
  • Could it keep me from using those platforms to positively affect my career or keep me from making professional connections and promoting myself as an educator?
  • It’s much easier to control what I say and post about myself online than it is to control what others say and post about or to me online. How can others in my life affect my digital identity as it relates to my role as a teacher?
  • For instance, I can avoid posting any pictures of myself at a party, but my friends may post one of me. What steps can I take to control the images others share of me online?
  • How much should I engage with my supervising teacher (and other teachers/administrators) online while I complete my practicum?
  • One one hand, it is an opportunity to build a relationship with other professionals already in the field that could help me in finding a job later but, on the other hand, there might be the potential for the relationship to become more social than professional, which could have the opposite effect.
  • What should I do if I find troubling information about others (students, teachers, etc.) online?
  • Is it acceptable to use dating apps/websites? What if I come across other teachers/administrators/parents of students/former students?
  • How could avoiding social networks altogether hinder my career prospects and teaching?
  • What is acceptable for a school board or administrator to restrict me from saying or doing online? What kinds of policies or restrictions could be considered a violation of my rights?
  • I am currently aware of issues related to my digital identity and conduct myself according to school board policies online; however, I was not always cautious and considerate in regards to my behaviour and posts on social media--Can my past conduct online affect my ability to find or keep a teaching job now, even if I have learned from past carelessness and inconsideration? (e.g. Community finding old tweets or comments on Facebook (from before teaching) that do not meet standards for teachers)
  • Is using a pseudonym/fake identity online enough to distinguish my personal and professional lives? Can employers/students still tie me to an account with a fake name/persona?
  • How could any personal violations of copyright laws (intentional or unintentional) impact my role as a teacher? Is this something I need to worry about outside of the classroom?
  • Are the expectations for my digital identity stricter as a teacher candidate than they would be for a certified teacher? Will I be judged more critically for my actions online than a certified teacher?
  • If my friends in Teachers College and I are socializing and my friend posts a picture/creates a post about me that I would not post about myself (e.g. a picture of me with alcohol), which one of us would be disciplined or would receive harsher scrutiny/discipline: me, who is in the post, or my friend who actually posted the image? Would we receive equal scrutiny?
  • Could I be the target of cyberbullying (defamatory remarks, harassment, etc.) in my role as a teacher candidate/teacher? What should I do if a student or parent targets me online?
  • What should I do if the school or school district to which I am assigned does not have a social media policy?
  • What can I do if a student takes a photo/video of me or creates a post about me to share online?
  • Are there ways for me to prevent this?
  • What are the appropriate steps to take if it happens?