A recent school assembly threw up an object lesson on how far we have to go with student data privacy.

My school is an enthusiastic participant in Jump Rope for Heart. I support the work of The Heart and Stroke Foundation, and on “Jump Rope Day” my students will be skipping and I will be encouraging them as they raise funds. But it was during our Jump Rope for Heart kick off assembly that I heard something that made me shake my head in amazement.

Not long ago there was a steady parade of children knocking at my door and asking for donations for a variety of causes. That doesn’t happen anymore. Shifting societal attitudes combined with parental concerns about safety means schools now insist that students don’t solicit donations “door to door”. Not even from neighbours they know. Read More

silencing students

Student Voice, a cornerstone of “modern” education, is actually over a hundred years old. Dr. Dennis Harper describes Student Voice as “…giving students the ability to influence learning to include policies, programs, contexts and principles”. Student Voice can take many different forms in education. It can be as simple and “grass roots” as peer teaching or as formal and bureaucratic as giving students seats on school boards.

Whatever form it takes, the underlying principle behind student voice is that the ideas, opinions and views of students are important and valued. Students are not subordinates, they are valued partners who deserve to be heard. However, that this isn’t always true. There’s growing evidence that many schools really aren’t that thrilled with some students expressing their “voice”. Read More


Canada lags the rest of the world when it comes to protecting personal data privacy. This is true both in general, and also when it comes to children’s data privacy and the protection of data privacy in Canadian classrooms.

Canadian educators are hindered in helping students protect their privacy by a lack of clear guidance and a jurisdictional mishmash. Education is a provincial responsibility, so education records are governed by provincial law. However, most online education sites are international, and so fall under federal privacy legislation.

Privacy in Canada is governed federally by The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Unlike in the US, the unique privacy needs of children aren’t protected in Canada by specific legislation. However, a recent development has given some insight into what Canadian teachers can do to protect student’s online data privacy. Read More


danah boyd is quite clear that teens use social media by default rather than design. Teenagers prefer to spend time together, face to face, but societal changes (e.g. schools outside their neighbourhoods, gated communities, stranger danger and curfew and loitering laws) make it difficult for them to “hang out”. They fill that gap with social  media, connecting online to replace the preferred real life network. Read More

reflective digital citizenship

In my post “Beyond Private and Public in Social Media” I called for an approach to teaching students about digital citizenship that does more than try to mitigate risk:

“Students need adults who will guide and support them as they navigate the complexities of relationships and online sharing. They need adults who can help them find answers and solve problems, and who understand that they’re going to make mistakes. Adults who will help them clean up the messes.”

In response Lisa Neale asked me for some possible questions we can use to promote self-reflection in students about their digital identities. Read More

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