False Privacy

Questions of privacy on our blogging platform come up often. There are 6 different privacy settings on the Commons.

1. Open and Indexed on Search Engines
2. Deter Search Engines (this setting is rendered useless as soon as someone Tweets a link to your site, which IS indexed.)
3. Private to HWDSB
4. Private to Only those users you Specifically identify (still must be students or employees)
5. Private to You (this is good for testing or building)
6. Protected by a generic password.

It is the last one I want to talk about…

In order to technically add a password to your blog, you would go into the Dashboard, and under Plugins, activate the Password Protected plugin. Then under Settings/Password Protected, you’ll see the options to add generic password. That said, I do think that the generic password functionality gives a false sense of protection. A generic password is only as good as your least trustworthy reader, who will share the password on facebook or Twitter etc. Users shouldn’t feel any more comfort in a password protected site, and should treat any website they create as being completely open (if you wouldn’t share the info publicly, you shouldn’t share it at all, regardless of privacy settings).

I think it’s important to recognize the function of a classroom blog, which is to provide parents with a window into the learning happening in the classroom. It isn’t a “facebook” for you class. Let parents create their child’s digital footprint, until the students are able to make the decision for themselves: you risk occupying your entire day ensuring that all 30 children are properly represented on your site: you are a teacher, not a classroom reporter/photographer.

Share pictures of student work. The latter still provides a conversation starter at the dinner table, and provides a means to share the great things happening in your classroom, with an audience.

Having an open blog also allows your colleagues access to virtual walkthroughs, in which they can learn from you in ways we are rarely afforded as teachers who are invariably teaching when we could be visiting each others’ rooms and learning from one another.

Regardless of what you decide, be proactive and ensure that all of the parents are aware of what you are doing, what you intend to share, and why you are sharing it.

Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

Join the conversation


  1. Jared- thanks for this useful post. I always enjoy more insight into the Commons. I know there are teachers who feel uncomfortable with a public accessible classroom blog. Is it time consuming to set up individual permissions?

    1. Individual permissions can’t be granted easily. One could set up a password agreed upon by the family, and utilize that password on individual posts, but I think that defeats the purpose. If you want that, send out individual emails.

      I believe a blog should be public, and that we should negotiate with parents what we feel is appropriate to share, given the age of the class. As a baseline, I see a classroom blog as a means to share what is happening in the classroom. A picture of student work, and a picture of a student holding their work, achieves the same purpose, if the purpose is to create a window into the classroom, and provide fodder for deeper dinner conversations beyond the customary grunt induced by “what did you do at school today?”

  2. Jared, this is an excellent blog post that really has me thinking. I am a strong supporter of having a public blog for all of the reasons that you indicated, and I share these reasons with parents. I think that the last line of your post is incredibly important, as the blog really does provide a “window into your classroom.”

    I wonder though what you mean when you discuss “not creating a child’s digital footprint until he/she is old enough to do so” or “having a parent create the child’s digital footprint instead.” What classifies as creating a digital footprint versus creating a window into your class? I post lots of videos on my blog, and I think that these videos can be powerful ways to share learning with parents and extend learning at home. I try not to mention names in videos, but sometimes I do. It depends. I also am up front with parents that it’s the “learning that I’m capturing,” and all students may not appear in equal amounts in the blog. They all have individual blogs though. This is different. I now wonder though if what I’m doing here is “creating a child’s digital footprint” and is this the right thing to do?


  3. Thanks for clarifying this, Jared! I completely agree with you here. Before the year begins, I always write parents and explain how I’m going to use the blog (including the use of photographs and videos), and I also phone them and talk to them about my plans. I think that these personal conversations are helpful and a great way to enter into some initial good dialogue with parents.

    I really appreciate your post. It gave me a chance to really clarify my own thinking when it comes to sharing student work online.


    P.S. I loved your first video comment too! 🙂

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