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.
“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!