Blogger's Rights for Students

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Blogger's Rights for Students

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just published a Frequently Asked Questions list for student blogging. This is a document that I highly recommend that school administrators who are involved in student discipline read very carefully. The EFF is not the final arbiter of what is right and wrong of course but their FAQ is loaded with information about what various courts have decided with regards to student freedom of speech in general and Internet speech in particular.

Freedom of speech on the Internet is far from settled law of course. There are a lot of gray areas. But as a teacher, an administrator or even as a student you may want to ask yourself if you really want to be a test case. School districts that lose suits charging civil rights violations spend a lot of money in settlements. And than there are all those legal costs to think about.

We all know that students are going to push the limits of policies. That is the nature of being a student. It is the responsibility of schools to show students where the lines are and help them understand the consequences of pushing the limits. Proper education can help avoid problems caused by students pushing to hard or too far. But of course for that to happen the adults in the system need to know what is what.

  • Alfred, Right on Target. My Computer Science class wants me to put a blogging engine for them. I am thinking about doing this with the caveat that they will be responsible for their input. However, I have some hesitation because students will be students! I have a web service that can parse the textbox input for inappropriate words but not the intent. I have DotNetNuke Website almost ready to use as a basis and they have a blogging engine that works with dotnet 2.0. The high school guy is responsible for all this blogging activity at my site as he imbued me into blogging and now my students want some of the action! Maybe, we can cross-pollinate a computer science with a language arts class for double the credit! (ha, ha)
  • It's very difficult to control what students will write about and more importantly how others will perceive their writing.
    Even the school newspaper is checked for content by administration at most schools and for them to check a students blog each time they want to write would be difficult.
    However, a school intranet could be used to control content.
    Many teenagers are using sites like myspace.com to blog on daily basis with their friends and have fun saying what they want to say without school control.
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