On student safety and privacy…

The use of Web 2.0 tools such as social media can assist students in learning how to communicate information online while interacting with each other, developing their information literacy and soft skills. Tumblr is an ideal tool to engage students in subject matter and extend their “Internet world [ICT competencies] beyond their first language” (Godwin Jones in Stanley, 2013, p. 121). It does, however, present challenges in terms of preventing students from accessing inappropriate materials and maintaining a student safe environment.

I am preparing a unit at the moment which involves using Tumblr in the context of a BYOD program. The first step was to set up a class Tumblr with a password protected login to protect the students’ identities and allow both myself and the students to upload and embed photos, sound bites and videos, run a real-time historical role play with post-level commenting and organize content with hashtags. The Tumblr can be accessed here (password esc407). It includes an ask feature for students to post questions anonymously, a submit feature for the students to post their writing samples without requiring a Tumblr account of their own (both features can be enabled in the Tumblr control panel under ‘Settings’) and a resources page with links to information relevant to the unit. Most importantly, the class Tumblr and all associated features (submit feature, ask feature etc.) have been made available through a separate URL (listed in the Tumblr control panel under ‘Settings’). I can give the students access to the class Tumblr via a link or a link embedded in a QR code. The advantage of sharing access to the site via the separate URL is that the students do not need to enter the Tumblr site, open a Tumblr account or download the Tumblr app to access the course material, blocking advertising and unsavory content while allowing the students to interact with each other in a safe, social online environment. Problem solved!

Stanley, G. (2013). Language Learning with Technology: Ideas for Integrating Technology in the Classroom (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers). Cambridge University Press.

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