The Edge of Slippery Slope

Homeroom this morning started with two students talking about the Acceptable Use policy at school. It was their “punishment” for being caught watching a fun and catchy YouTube video during a study hall. It was one of those videos with fun music and lots of words that simply are not allowed in school. The students knew right away when they were discovered that they were on an inappropriate site, even if it was a fairly tame infraction.

After the students led a brief discussion about Acceptable Use, I asked the class if they had heard the term “a slippery slope.” Much to my surprise, it was not a familiar one to them, so I created a bit of a mind picture for you. “You are standing at the top of a hill. Imagine that the hill has been greased with oil. You take a small step onto it. Where do you end up?”

There was no hesitation. “At the bottom.”

We all nodded together. “To stay within the Acceptable Use policy, you have to be able to know when you are stepping on oil and when you are not. That is the whole point of the document, to help you know how to stay on solid ground. So, tell me, where are the Slippery Slopes that you know of on the internet?” I really wanted them to identify them, so that they could take ownership of the fact that they truly knew where to go and what to stay away from.

“Bubble game.”


“Stores that let you design clothes”


At that, I stopped the conversation. “So is YouTube bad? Should you stay away from it?”

Luckily they quickly described the difference. “There are ways to use it for school and ways to use it that aren’t.” Lots of smiles!

“When you are there to find documentaries to support research, that is awesome. But what else can you do there that would send you sliding?”

“Watch TV shows.”

“Look at music videos”

“Check up on movie stars.”

“Exactly! And while it is possible for the Tech Department to take the laptops and find out what you have done on it, that is not the kind of community that we want to be.” It was time to set the bar high! Time to push the responsibility onto them, the users. “We could turn school into a police state, constantly monitoring every move you make on the computers, or we can build a community of learners that work together for the good of the school. That is the goal for you. Are you willing to be part of building a strong community, based on rules but not dominated by them? It really is up to you!”

Now we will see!

4 responses to “The Edge of Slippery Slope

  1. LOVE. This. So. Much! OMWord!… i also teach middle school, and it’s so hard to sometimes get kids to grasp the importance of the AUP but also respect their intelligence….I usually say stuff like “Loves me my Wikipedia -it’s a first stop on a lot of research challenge journeys but there is no one stop shop and if it’s your only source in HS you’re gonna have a rude wake-up call when you get your grade – look at the bottom of the Wikpedia page for the resources and track those down – use our databases ….it’s like cheating – but NOT! – it’s just smart”

    i hate being the computer nazi but the way you described:

    “And while it is possible for the Tech Department to take the laptops and find out what you have done on it, that is not the kind of community that we want to be.”

    it was brilliant and i’m gonna bring that up when i do computer lab orientations next year!
    Thank you!

  2. Hi Mr. Hadley! My name is Adam Knorr. I am a student at the University of South Alabama. This summer I am taking a class called EDM 310. Part of our requirements are to post on assigned blogs. I have the privilege to comment on three of your blogs for the next couple of weeks. Here is a link to my personal class blog as well as my Edm 310 class blog. At the end of my three posts, I will summarize them in a post on my personal blog, which I would like for you to look at. This post will be available on June 30 for your viewing pleasure.

    After reading your post “The Edge of Slippery Slope”, I could not agree more with what you have said. Students need to know what is appropriate and what not appropriate use of the internet is. How you taught them the differences on this was outstanding. Students should not be afraid to use the tools provided to them, but so often, we hear about students who are being punished for miss use of technology. In reality, most of these students have probably never been taught the rights and wrongs of internet use and how their actions can be held accountable.

    At the end of your post, you commented on policing of students laptops. It is a shame that students are being punished for how they use their technology in a classroom. I know rules have been placed there for good reasons, but I am willing to bet that the people who have implemented these rules lack the proper understanding of what exactly goes into research projects using YouTube or any search engine for that matter. There is no way to research on the internet without coming across inappropriate material. This is why a good teacher, such as yourself, is so important because you have taught your students how to use the internet appropriately.

    I want to end this post by thank you for allowing me the opportunity to communicate with you and I look forward to seeing your responses. Have a great week and remember every day is a great day in education.

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