Another Take on Blogging Rules

Like Jeanne Simpson, Karl Fisch, Anne Davis, and Darren Kuropatwa before me, I decided it was important to flesh out blogging rules for my classes. I took much guidance from these four fantastic resources, but because these limits will most affect my students, I believe that they should be the ones to establish the rules. I am quite pleased with what my students came up with, but I would like to get some input from the Greater Edusphere on our rules and how they were generated.
In order to prepare my students to fully explore classroom blogging guidelines, I started asking them some big questions.

  1. Choose one of the following to respond to in your writing (to be discussed as a whole class after 5-10 minutes of writing):
    • Why do you think that people act differently online then they do in real life?
    • How can we create a safe environment for everyone on our blogs besides setting up rules or guidelines?
    • What are the inherent risks of posting to a blog at least once a week?
  2. In groups of 2-3, explore the Discovery Blogging Rules websites and brainstorm your own rules ideas that fit into the following categories (to be used for creating our official Discovery Blogging Rules for 2006-2007):
    • Creating a blogging environment without fear (of insult, of reprisal, of dishonesty).
    • Creating a scholastic blogging environment.
    • Creating a blogging environment based upon protection (of personal information, of identity, of unique thoughts).
    • Creating a creative, non-restrictive, tolerant, and sensitive blogging environment.
  3. In groups of 2-3, write down approximately 5 Blogging rules that you think should be a part of the Discovery Blogging Rules.

We discussed and debated the student generated rules, especially those that further explored the concepts originally outlined in the four resources mentioned above or those that were noticeably absent from those four resources. Here are our results:

Discovery Blogging Rules
2006-2007
  1. I will not give out any information more personal than my first name or post pictures of myself.
  2. I will not plagiarize, instead I will expand on others’ ideas and give credit where it is due.
  3. I will use language appropriate for school.
  4. I will not insult my fellow students or their writing.
  5. I will only post pieces that I am comfortable with everyone seeing; other pieces I will keep as drafts.
  6. I will not be afraid to express my ideas, while not overgeneralizing or making derogatory/inflammatory remarks; any posts on controversial issues must be submitted to Mr. Wilkoff for consideration before they can be posted to my blog.
  7. I will use constructive/productive/purposeful criticism, supporting any idea, comment, or critique I have with evidence.
  8. I will take blogging seriously, posting only things that are meaningful and taking my time when I write.
  9. I will try to spell everything correctly.
  10. I will not use my blog posts or comments as a chat room. (No IM language.)
  11. I will not bully others in my blog posts or in my comments.
  12. I will never access another student’s account.
  13. I will be proactive in monitoring the comments that others leave on my blog, utilizing the comment blacklist if necessary.
  14. I will personalize my blog and keep my writing authentic, while taking responsibility for anything blogged in my name.
  15. I will not provoke other students in my blog posts or comments.
  16. I will use my blog as an extension of the classroom, and in doing so, I will leave anything that unsaid in the classroom unsaid on my blog.
  17. I will only post photos which are school appropriate and either uncopywrited or correctly cited.
  18. I will not spam.
  19. I will only post comments on posts that I have fully read, rather than just skimmed.
  20. I will not reveal anyone else’s identity in my comments or posts.

Infractions of these rules will lead to the following consequences in order of severity and number of offense:

  1. Letter of apology to those offended by the infraction (individual students, one core class, or whole blogging community), warning by teacher, and editing or deletion of offending post/comment.
  2. Letter of apology to those offended by the infraction (individual students, one core class, or whole blogging community), temporary loss of blogging privileges (duration of quarter), editing or deletion of offending post/comment.
  3. Letter of apology to those offended by the infraction (individual students, one core class, or whole blogging community), permanent loss of blogging privileges (duration of school year), editing or deletion of offending post/comment.

The process by which blog posts violating rules 3, 10, or posts of a controversial nature may be used:

    1. Students present the idea/draft for Mr. Wilkoff’s consideration.
    2. Mr. Wilkoff will either accept or reject the writing based upon its merit on a case by case basis.
    3. The student will post the piece of writing with this warning: “This piece of writing is authentic in its use of controversial language/topics.”
    4. Mr. Wilkoff will post a heading: “This blog post was accepted by Mr. Wilkoff for use as a Weekly Authentic despite its controversial nature.”

These rules have already started to work their magic. This past week, one student violated rule #18 (spamming). The letter of apology for this infraction, which has shown me that these rules are workable, is as follows:

Dear Mr. Wilkoff and Core 2,

I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you last year on blogger and nation states, and I’m sorry for what I’ve done this year. It is not a good thing to get enjoyment out of annoying people, and saying mean things to them. I didn’t realize what a bad thing I was doing until Mr. Wilkoff talked about it on Friday. I really should get a life, instead of going home and getting on the computer to annoy and spam people. Psycodude will not bug you anymore. I will stick to my real account, and only post positive, nice comments. I don’t think any of you will forgive me, and that’s ok, but I really am sorry. Well, goodbye…forever.
Sincerely,
Psycodude (sorry, but I don’t want people to know who I am, and you wouldn’t either!)

I hope that my classes and I have added something to the discussion of blogging in the classroom. Please let me know if you have a better way of doing this, or if you think we have missed anything.

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