Learning Together

Learning Together

Friday, 19 February 2016

Activity 8:​ Legal contexts and digital identities

Create a blog post where you identify a​n e​thical dilemma in your own practice linked to digital or online access or activity.

Explain the dilemma and discuss e​ither:​
  • how you would address the potential issue if it occurred in your own practice or (​if relevant):
  • an actual situation that you have knowledge of, and how it was resolved. The discussion should be in relation to either the guidelines of your organisation on online practice or the code of ethics for certificated​ teachers.
I have been fortunate, so far, in that I have yet to deal with a highly dangerous situation involving digital devices -  "Knock on wood."

Access to pornography on a school laptop or device is an issue that no one would like to encounter. Speaking personally, I find pornography to be ugly, despicable and distressing, especially when it involves children. Pornography is a contentious issue, as it can be subjective. One person's "mild titillation" can be another person's "objectionable filth". As a principal called to at times adjudicate such differing opinions, there is always the potential danger of making a mountain from a mole hill.

Although I have yet to deal with a situation such as this, the New Zealand Ministry of Education (2015), provides a guideline to support schools should this happen. 

An example pertaining to dealing with an issue involving pornography is outlined below:

'Student ‘A’ was using a school laptop in the library and invited a group of friends to look at a website with pornographic and violent images. Another student viewing it was very disturbed by the content and told the librarian the laptop should be confiscated and examined.'

1. Ask the student to surrender and search the device and consider the following:
  • How have the images been accessed? This will inform the school as to whether they only need to focus on the laptop, or whether images could be on other devices or their server

  1. Loaded to the laptop locally. For example, using a USB memory stick?
  2. Accessed via the school’s network?
  3. Accessed using the student’s own internet connection (e.g. via a tethered mobile device) or a third party connection (e.g. community Wi-Fi)? 

  • If accessed via the school’s network, were any security and content filtering systems bypassed e.g. using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Whose network account was used?
  • What type of images are involved? Are they inappropriate (i.e. restricted) or illegal (i.e. objectionable material)?
  • Were the images being viewed illegal content? If so, the laptop should be secured electronically and physically and the incident reported to the Department of Internal Affairs.
  • If the images were inappropriate, could they become evidence in a school- based discipline procedure? 
Things to consider: 

  • If so, the laptop should be secured electronically and physically and an examination conducted by a digital forensics specialist on behalf of the school board.
  • Will a review of the school’s prevention strategies be carried out after this incident? For example, are the school’s policies on appropriate use of digital technology clearly stated and understood by students? What pastoral support is in place for students witnessing the content?

Developing a consistent practice across the school assists us in ensuring devices are updated and kept safe. Our school has decided to provide devices for our students to use. This way we are able to manage and assign one device per student and monitor the use and safety of these. Hapara Teacher Dashboard provides our teachers with an ability to assign projects, to access student work, and to monitor and share student work. 

One way we address internet safety and device safety in our school is to involve our children in brainstorming the rules. Our school vision plays an important part and influences our wider school management, learning and behaviours. With this in mind, the approach and expectation is similar across the school. 
Our school vision is often the starting point in our discussions with children on the establishment of our class treaties. Once these rules or treaties have been decided upon, a letter outlining these is sent home to parents to agree to and sign, along with their child. This way our children and parents have a shared expectation, responsibility and understanding of the rules and consequences.


Cinelearning. (2014, June 7). Teacher Ethics Video - Social Media Dilemma HD.[video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGQbLSEPN5w

Cinelearning. (2014, June 7). Teacher Ethics Video - Ride Dilemma HD. [video file].Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0UEFSmxkbg

Ministry of Education (2015). Digital technology- Safe and responsible use in school. Retrieved from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/School/Managing-and-supporting-students/DigitalTechnologySafeAndResponsibleUseInSchs.pdf

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49216520

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