April 5, 2020: Technology, Social Media, Ethics, and Everything in Between

This week’s discussion brought about a variety of different topics associated with ethical and legal issues with technology and media. As educators, we are faced with a significant amount of responsibility when it comes to following specific guidelines around privacy & confidentiality and accessibility.

Privacy & Confidentiality

At the beginning of the school year, families are bombarded with tons of paperwork. Part of me feels guilty sending all of those papers home, as it can be so overwhelming for parents! Every year, when I send home this paperwork, I tend to worry about some families. “Do they understand what they’re reading? If they don’t, how can I help them? What happens if there is a misunderstanding?” One of these forms is a media release. Essentially, this is a form that asks for parents’ permission for their child’s photo to be taken and shared via school related social media platforms (e.g.: Twitter, school website, etc.). When a child does not have this signed, I find that I am extra vigilant about confirming with parents about what they’re comfortable with regarding their child’s use of apps.

Sometimes these policies leave a lot of grey area for teachers and parents. Although Daniel’s post from this week is in reference to copyright law, he does an excellent job of highlighting the grey areas associated with the legal frameworks around this concept. His post got me thinking about some situations I have found myself in as an educator integrating media and technology in the classroom. For example, when using SeeSaw in my classroom, students who did not have a signed media release could not film their faces in their videos. A parent contacted me to let me know that their child’s face could be present on SeeSaw. In addition, when my co-teachers and I did our photo booth activity (read more about it here) parents who did not sign a media release in the fall, granted permission for their children to participate. I contacted those parents to explain a media release was required for the activity. These parents explained they would like their child to have a media release only for this activity, but otherwise do not have permission. See what I mean? A lot of grey area! I also have questions about what to do on field trips with parent volunteers. I’ve noticed that parents will take photos of their child with other children on field trips, not realizing that some children do not have a media release. These photos could easily be posted to social media, which seems relatively harmless. However, what about the child in the photo who does not have a media release? Typically, I tell parents prior to the field trip that taking photos of your own child is welcomed, but photographing other children is not due to privacy. Sometimes handling these situations can be somewhat uncomfortable. Out of curiosity, has anyone else had these situations arise? How have you handled them?

Student confidentiality is another piece to consider. Confidentiality isn’t just about not sharing student information verbally with others over dinner in a restaurant– it’s also ensuring student information is securely stored. The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (L.A.F.O.I.P) recently became more prevalent in our school division and there have been more conversations around privacy and how we as educators can ensure this for our students. A few years ago we did receive some P.D. on L.A.F.O.I.P, but after this past week’s discussion and content catalysts, I felt like I should spend some time reviewing some of this information. I thought I would start with L.A.F.O.I.P’s Privacy and Access Principles:

Screenshot and video found here. Check out the video that goes into details on these principles.

After reviewing these principles, I was reminded of the importance of remembering to dispose of day plans appropriately (e.g.: shredding) and ensuring sensitive information is stored in a secure manner. It is so easy to leave at the end of the day and forget to file away that referral or documentation notebook. Furthermore, I never gave much thought to the amount of information collected by schools. These principles highlight that information that is only necessary should be collected– nothing additional or extraneous. This refresher was helpful, but then I started thinking about worse case scenario… Protocol when a privacy breach occurs.

An outline was provided regarding the steps taken when this occurs:

Screenshot from this link here.

In terms of legal action, I wonder what happens after these steps are followed? What if it was an accident? What are the consequences regarding accidental breaches? I suppose it would all be situation dependent, however, this again emphasizes the grey areas when delving into the legal side of media/privacy law.


Amidst the COVID-19 school closures, the digital divide is becoming more and more real. It breaks my heart, but students who do not have access to technology or internet are at a deficit with this move to distance learning. I’ve delivered work packages to students’ homes, but a work package is far from an engaging learning experience. As far as I know, our division has not given out technology to families without access. In our discussion, the right to internet access resonated with me. However, I wonder how this can be made possible for individuals without the means or ability to exercise this right?

Shelby’s tweet from the beginning of the semester was the first time I had ever heard of the digital divide. According to the article she tweeted,

Screenshot here.

I have always had access to the internet so easily. I never considered the divide and how it impacts people without access. After reading this article, I realized that my access to the internet provides me with knowledge and the ability to connect with a broader community. It struck a chord with me when the article highlighted the impact this has on women and knowing their rights:

Screenshot here.

Although this article focuses on issues on a global scale, it rings true for some of my students without internet access or devices at home to participate in supplemental learning due to COVID-19 school closures. Public spaces like libraries are not the safest option right now, so how can my students who do not own devices have access? This is tricky and I wish I had a solution to this dilemma many teachers are now facing. If internet access is considered a human right, I wonder… How can we make this accessible to everyone?

Lots to think about during these challenging times. However, I can’t wait to see the advancements and discoveries that come out on the other side of this pandemic!

Thanks for taking a read!


3 thoughts on “April 5, 2020: Technology, Social Media, Ethics, and Everything in Between

  1. Great post Leigh! I have the same feelings towards photo’s of students being shared on social media. It is so important to have the proper documentation, consent and waiver, before even thinking of posting photo’s of students. Too many people tend to post photo’s with their student in and I am constantly wondering if they have that permission. I recently posted a video that a student and I had created, I made sure that before I even proposed the prospect of creating the project that might be shared on SM that I had the consent and waiver as well as the students permission. Again great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the awesome post, Leigh! Like you, I haven’t always thought about a digital divide in our world because at the schools I’ve taught at, I’ve never really had an issue with students not having access to technology. However, with distance learning taking the forefront of education, I’ve realized that we have always had a major digital divide in our society – it just wasn’t as obvious before. While distance learning isn’t an ideal situation, I’m wondering if a positive that may come out of this situation is the increased awareness of this issue. Hopefully, with more awareness, as a society, we can work to bridge this gap to ensure everyone has access to technology. After all, internet access is a Human Right, and the need for it has never been clearer than it is now.
    Once again, thanks for the great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did my post on ‘taking photos of students’ as well. I try to line up everything from forms, to shot selection, to asking permission … its great to share but one has to take care … even with all the precautions I find it a tough one to make sure I’m doing correctly. All the sign ups and such asked of kids because of app used in today situation is a bit rushed for sure and not sure if LAFOIP always adhered too. Great post

    Liked by 1 person

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