Friday, May 6, 2011

The "F" Word

"FOIP! I'm FOIPed! What the FOIP?!" Yes, sometimes Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act can seem like a swear word to educators and students. FOIP can get in the way of creativity. Myself, I enjoy dabbling in the creative and collaborative world that is offered by the WWW, and take the risks associated with putting myself out there. Sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Animoto, etc. offer everyone the chance to create, communicate, collaborate and express themselves. These sites provide an avenue for teachers to reach Bloom's higher levels of taxonomy. I enjoy many great student and teacher produced videos and other products on the web and wonder about how many more could be produced if it were not for FOIP.

However, as educators in Alberta, how closely are we reading the terms and agreements on the sites we use in our classrooms? Are we abiding by the FOIP agreements set by our districts, governed by our province, when we ask our students and parents to fill out the technology use forms at the beginning of the year?

With the increasing discussions of allowing Personal Owned Devices in Alberta schools, we need to strengthen our communications between all stakeholders in educating our students. At our Alberta Education Jurisdictional Technology Contacts meeting, FOIP and Acceptable Use policies created a wealth of discussion, some of it through a web 2.0 tool called titanpad.
At the top of the list is making sure Digital Citizenship is embedded in daily teaching pedagogy. Awareness in using online tools is important before we allow our students to access many new sites that are being introduced and used in the classrooms. This should not, however, deter teachers from using these fantastic learning tools.

Years ago, I had no concern with FOIP. Realizing today how easy it is to access, post and download pictures, video and information, I still take the risks myself, but as an educational technologist, I make sure that teachers are aware FOIP issues.

One easy step to continue the creativity in the classroom using technology, is to get a FOIP form signed each time you are unsure of a web activity you are doing such as YouTube or Animoto. It may be a pain, but you will feel more at ease.

What are your thoughts regarding the right to privacy regarding technology and education?