Final COETAILS Course Reflection – Creating a RUP & Publishing Policy

Crossposted from ZIS COETAILS Blog

For Course 5, I participated in a group revision and discussion of the ZIS Responsible Use Policy and the corresponding ZIS Publishing Policy via the online platform BasecampThe result of this project is a revised, single RUP for all ZIS divisions and a unified publishing policy, replacing the policy wedded to the RUP and the policy as outlined on the ZIS blogs landing page.

Initially, we were unsure about whether a single RUP or RUP by division made the most sense. Using Basecamp as a tool for sharing documents and discussions, we came to consensus that a single document made the most sense. The RUP may be translated into more “kid friendly” language at the ECC, Lower School, and even Middle School, but the policy will remain the same. Major changes reflect language around COPPA, which now reflects the letter and spirit of this law as a guiding principal behind the RUP. Additionally, the language has been tweaked to place an explicit focus on digital citizenship and media literacy for students and teachers. Additionally, the Lower School representatives were essential in adding student-centered language to this document, which absolutely represents what schools should be doing with technology.

The publishing policy places new importance upon student responsibility for published materials. Uniformly, staff from each division, students, alumni, and parents found the concept of student-owned product sensible and, generally, a given, which I found surprising. Perhaps we are reaching a new point of perspective on information literacy and “21st Century skill” fluency as a learning community in which the default is online authenticity and ownership, especially in academic contexts. Of course, students and families will be able to opt out of open publication or choose a “walled garden” approach in which they publish behind a school firewall (or veil, perhaps). As safety and visual information privacy concerns exist, they should be possible to address and solve on a case-by-case basis.

Course one and two of COETAILS formed the basis of this revision, but course four provided the inspiration for the project: technology’s catalytic effect upon learning. As my Digital Journalism course evolved this year, students grew independently fluent in a wide variety of ways and reflected non-linear learning in online platforms that I never explicitly taught or tangentially mentioned. Students used Instagram to explore if the iPhone could replace an SLR for journalists and gathered information via Reddit; neither of these arose through me. When students are free to explore digital spaces and create personally meaningful publications as they see fit, they will own them. Digital citizenship, like national citizenship, can be learned best through participation – democracy depends upon it. Maybe citizenship isn’t even the correct noun in this context, because we are focused on building skills for participation that shares, that makes, that adds value, that is ethical, that is honest, and that is above all active. At least in America, citizenship has become too often a passive concept. Maybe we need to shape digital leaders in a new, open, and democratic online community, leaders with the skills to resist corporate and government control of their communities.

COETAILS was a great opportunity to geek out, reflect, and learn. I’m proud that I and several COETAILS mates (I’m looking at you, Allens) worked together to create this new policy for ZIS. I look forward to conversations that follow the reworking of this policy (if they happen) and a student-centered technological paradigm at ZIS.

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