WCS ICT Announcements
After extensive research and consultation with teachers, admin, parents and other schools around the province our laptop program has been revised. Today, Mr. Wooley will be e-mailing out a letter to parents summarizing the basic changes so please watch for this e-mail. The changes to the Laptop Program in addition to several other new initiatives will appear in the registration process for the 2012/13 school year, which is expected to open up next week. If you'd like to preview the wording for any of our revised agreements please check the Westmount one-to-one laptop program Website.
In anticipation of questions regarding the changes, I will be creating a Rationale and FAQ pages to help keep parents informed. The new pages will appear in the navigation bar, but I will also post a link on the WCS ICT Home page once it's setup.
Points and Highlights from Social Media Workshop
Intro to Social Media
Social Media encompasses hundreds of different types of sites, the main point of which is to share (different sites focus on sharing different things, ex. Flickr is for sharing photos) with a large/small audience or group.
Most Social Media sites require users to accept ‘friend’ status with other users before they can share, or for users to subscribe to newsfeeds.
Creating accounts is quite easy, and only requires basic user information and an e-mail address.
Logic and Concerns
Our students have posted some inappropriate comments, and an increased parental presence would likely encourage respectful and responsible behavior.
Social Media is a part of our student’s lives and it transcends the school/home border. As a school, we are limited in how we can handle external issues on Social Media sites. A partnership between the school and parents is the best approach
All families will have different expectations and views, but it’s important to open up communication between parents. Several parents feel trapped because the students know more about the system. A FaceBook group for parents will allow us to ask for help and feedback around issues.
Parents created FaceBook accounts and we reviewed security settings. Please view this video review of FaceBook security settings.
Parents were also encouraged to send a ‘friend’ request to their children. Some students may refuse to be ‘friends’ with their parents and this can be a family discussion. If you experience resistance from your child, consider asking for advice on the Westmount Parent Group for Facebook
Parents also established the Westmount Parent Group. This group can serve as a communication hub for parents concerned about online interactions by their students. Mr. Ferg is also a member of this group, and will contribute as needed. Please click on the above link, and apply to join..
Mr. Ferg will be hosting a workshop on Social Media on Tuesday Dec. 20, from 5:30-6:30pm in the Mid/High cafeteria. The workshop will be most applicable to parents of current middles school students, but all parents are welcome to attend and learn about FaceBook and Google+. In this workshop Mr. Ferg would like to help parents create accounts, and determine how much information their children are sharing with strangers. Parents will also request their children to accept them as 'friends' or add them to their 'circles'. Lastly, but perhaps most important of all, we can build a parent network to help insure our students are making good safe decisions online. A laptop would be "required" for this workshop, but you might be able to survive with a tablet or smart phone. If you wanted to bring your child's laptop, that would be acceptable, just ask them for their username and password.
The Workshop will be on Tuesday Dec. 20, from 5:30-6:30pm in the cafeteria and I will post notes and clear steps afterwards for parents that are interested but can't attend.
If you have any questions or concepts you'd like addressed at the workshop, please let me know ahead of time so I can adequately plan.
Thank you to all of you who were able to attend Tuesday nights session, and I believe you learned many valuable things and were also helpful in providing feedback to me. I was pleasantly with the turn out and interest from parents.
For those of you that missed the presentation, you can view a modified presentation here with a few additional notes in place of the images The main part of the meeting was the final discussion that we held. It was commonly agreed that the MacBook and social media breaks down many of the barriers between school and home life for the students and that to cope with this the school and parents need to communicate better. We focused on a single issue to discuss first and it branched outwards some of the key points discussed were:
How ethical is it for students to allow online? in which situations is it alright?
-claiming to be 13 years old to create accounts
-lying about their personal information to strangers to protect their identity
Are there alternative methods that the school should be teaching students in these situations instead of lying?
-making students confident enough to say 'no' online
-teachers communicating ahead of time to parents the websites they would like to use, and allow parents to create accounts with the student. Intended school use of the website would also be valuable
How secure are the websites our teachers are using?
-currently we have no school policy regarding this, but we can look into it
-I fear there is no easy way to assess website security, but will discuss it with our IT department and am open to suggestions from parents
Under the MacBook Information Tab, I've added a new page called Health and Wellness. I've started it off with some basic information and will continue to add to it as I come across more tools and tips.