As a teacher with a passion for using technology in the classroom I am aware of the issues facing the children we teach in the online environment. My school is in the process of setting up its VLE, however, until it is ready to go I have used a variety of online tools in order to enable pupils to experience an online environment. These tools include Edmodo, LingtLanguage, Yacapaca, Wikis and blogs and I feel that each one of these tools (and many more) offer pupils a wider learning experience. Whilst using these tools our pupils have to be aware of their online safety, and I believe that it is my duty as a teacher to instruct them as best as I can in how to use these tools safely. The first rule I often say is that, for whatever tool we are using, it is an extension of our classroom. This means that language and behaviour must be appropriate. Secondly, I ask them never to use their full names – at most they use their first name and the initial of their surname.
I am also acutely aware that we, as teachers, also have an online presence. I am known on twitter as @spanishsam and although that used to be my name on the TES I changed it to lingo_lass a few years ago. Why am I telling you this? Firstly because I wish my online presence to be transparent. I believe that we are all entitled to an opinion and we should all be able to express our opinion, however, we need to bear in mind that, just like our pupils, our online actions can be seen by others. I believe that the sharing of ideas through my PLN has given me so much support and has allowed me to develop a lot, however I need to remember that what I can say can be read by anyone, and although I think I behave in an appropriate manner online (albeit with the odd forceful opinion!) anyone can read what I have written and use if against me if they so wished.
A warning to us all: we are creating a digital footprint. I am very proud of my little footprint, however, it is possible for someone to misinterpret what we do, to attempt to misconstrue or take out of context that which is said online. When you become involved in online environments, consider this: it is an extension of the school, with the added flavour of your own opinions.