Tear Down Your Walled Garden

I don’t believe in a walled-garden approach to online student safety. If you build a wall, students will climb over it and dig under it. There are also plenty of troublemakers on the other side of the wall trying to get to our kids.

Instead, I want every school to have a garden, or playground, monitored by adults with plenty of open gates. When something happens involving a student, it becomes a teachable moment.

While they are great tools for collaboration, Google Apps and Office 365 are like digital playgrounds without fences or recess monitors. Problems that occur on these digital playgrounds impact the real world. Because your district or school is providing these accounts, you have a legal and ethical responsibility to monitor and protect your students.

Does Google Apps, Office 365 or the LMS at your school look like this?


Or is it safe and does it look more like this?


On the other hand, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., are more like city parks. There are a lot of problems occurring there, too, but you’re not directly responsible for what happens in the parks. Rather, cyber safety courses and digital citizenship that is part of a school curriculum will go a long way in assuring that students pause before they post and think before they type.