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Teaching in a Dangerous Time

(Sung to the tune of Bruce Cockburn)

As teachers, we face constant disruptions and annoyances. While we no longer deal with the usual annoyances, the huge disruption caused by this global pandemic is unlike anything that we have ever seen. As of this writing, nearly 190 countries have closed schools and we have no clue how long this is going to last. And in the frantic rush to provide distance education for all of our students, we find that there is a new annoyance that hits us. While I am not trying to say that copyright and privacy laws should be completely ignored, I have found that it is something that is annoying me more than ever these days. While I am working super hard to provide my students with quality learning opportunities, I keep finding that I am constantly questioning if my procedures are as ethical as they need to be given the circumstances. And it has got me a bit annoyed… mostly because I feel like I just want to do what I feel is the best way to handle this situation, and it may not be the case. One of those “more ya know, less ya know” type of things…

Education - Creative Commons | When using this photo, please… | Flickr
Look how much fun we can have…

My first question was whether or not my platform for delivery was a good choice. Interesting side note – I use Moodle on a daily basis within a blended learning environment, but it took me until this pandemic to actually do some research into the privacy of this platform. Through my research, I have found a lot of information that both supports AND brings into question the security of Moodle. However, my school division does a good job of updating and securing the information. At the end of the day, while I did come across some aspects of ways that Moodle can get hacked, I think that for a learning platform, it does a great job of supporting student privacy and educational data.

By the way, I did come across a pretty awesome list of distance learning options published by UNESCO. There are so many options out there, and that also brings to light another issue. How do you know which one to choose? Are you going to research all of them? If you do, you might find some issues like with Google or Class Dojo. And while these companies all have privacy policies, I guess it begs the question why they need the info to begin with. At the end of the day, I learned a lot about these platforms that we use, and their consequences. But I don’t have any answers for what is best. Sorry. It’s just definitely worth the discussion. No solution is going to be perfect, and it is super important for educators to use their best judgment. That includes being well-educated on the topic. For me, it is important to consider what is best for out students when planning for equitable and accessible education during these times.

Who knows?

That takes me to my next new annoying thing – although I think I am doing a good job of it, it’s one of those things I never had to worry about in my blended classroom. The issue of copyright and using works within my online format. It was so easy, pulling out my class set of anthologies, and reading stories out of there. Am I allowed to make a PDF copy of a short story available for my students? (Spoiler alert: YES!!… I think…) I even did a long search on the internet to see if it was okay for me to tell my students to watch a movie of their choice for an assignment. (I never did get a solid answer, but my common sense says yes).

But that is where I get annoyed with the copyright things. Sometimes my common sense is actually incorrect. I know that these laws are important – it also gives me a perfect opportunity to set a precedent for my students in terms of digital citizenship. But sometimes being a good citizen is hard (I know I’m complaining and ranting here – poor me!) In this situation, I have spent way more time looking things up to make sure that I am following the right rules than ever before. Like I said, this has became one of those “more ya know, less ya know” things.

Ha! I put this here just to make you smile 🙂

On the bright side, this whole situation has given me so much to work with in terms of my major project. I feel super fortunate that I happened to be taking this class during the most unprecedented educational situation of my life. Quite the fortunate stroke of serendipity.

How have you been handling the transition into digital platforms? Do you share some of the things I talk (complain) about?

PS Thanks to Curtis for sharing that Copyright Matters document!


One thought on “Teaching in a Dangerous Time

  1. Hey Rob,
    I feel all the frustrations you are feeling, especially as an ELA teacher. I was struggling to decide whether or not I could post that short story or a link to a novel I found online…it’s all very muddled water and what I took away from your blog is there really is no right, black and white, this is the correct way to do this answer. And that is annoying. These are such unprecedented times, and I think like we discussed in class the other night, it would be a bad look for a company to capitalize on teachers and copyrights. Going forward, I’m just taking it day by day, and hopefully, I do it somewhat correctly. I’m not looking for perfection, just simply, good enough for my students to learn and for me to keep my sanity.
    Thanks for the enlightening read!


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