Original title: Blog Rules – Just the basics, 4 rules based on Respect, Inclusion, Learning and Safety

In May of ’06 I taught a 10 day course on Leonardo Da Vinci, as part of our yearly Renaissance Fair. I did this in a brand new way. I started the project off by having students create their own blog here on elgg. I also created a learning community/forum for each of the two classes, and a social forum to be shared by both classes.

There is one thing above all others that significantly impressed me with this experience: Students owning the learning, asking the important questions, and helping each other to learn. They showed an incredible willingness to contribute/share their ideas.

I wasn’t sure what rules I should give around ‘Safe Blogging’ so I pared it down to some basics. In our school we have been slowly rolling out the ideas of Restitution and we have developed 4 basic beliefs: Respect, Safety, Inclusion, and Learning. So I thought why not use these beliefs as the guiding principles for the blogs and communities? Here is what it has evolved to (a work in progress I know…)

Note that #3 in the post below, ‘Learning’ is broken into two sections, 3a for the social forum where this post is found in, and 3b is for the class dialogues and the student blogs. I like this separation, (good idea or control issues- I’m still undecided???), because it keeps the learning space a learning space, and still allows the students a place to be kids- with minimal ‘cross pollination’.

I like having two different class blogs so that I can have kids reflect on things without giving away the lesson to the second class, but I also liked that the social blog was a place they could come together… In fact I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the conversation that often happened in the social forum! I ran a powerpoint presentation during the fair to showcase some of the online ‘conversations’ that occurred. Here is the presentation (Part 1 and Part 2) along with some optional student feedback (all that was given to me).

I’ve found a lot of posts in the ‘edu-blogsville web-world’ recently around Blog Rules with most of them emphasizing what NOT to do. I did find one positive gem, Arapahoe High School’s Blogging Policy, with 3 sections: Safe and Responsible Blogging; Successful Bloggers; and a Sample with ‘additive’ comments.

– – – – – Here is the post with my BASIC RULES:

Four Basic Rules

In the class forums, (I call them class dialogues), I repeat these as the basic rules above without 3a. I also provide a definition:

This is a space for students to add to Mr. Truss’ class learning dialogue.
Definition: dialogue (also dialog) noun
• a discussion between two or more people or groups, esp. one directed toward exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem. See ‘conversation’.

Every student will contribute to this dialogue on a regular basis.

There are some basic rules for using this forum.

(The basic rules are repeated here in the post.)

– – – – –

Originally posted: January 9th, 2007

Reflection upon re-reading and re-posting:

Even today I am amazed at how well this project went. It exceeded my expectations and ‘sold’ me on the use of technology for learning.

I still like these rules, and as an Administrator now, I am really liking the idea of Restitution- making things right, rather than punishment.

25 comments on “Blog Rules – Respect, Inclusion, Learning and Safety

  1. Thanks for sharing your Rules for Blogging with students. I really appreciate the opportunity to read some rules (and reflection upon them) from someone who has done this before. I also really like the way your rules are pretty positive, they say what to do not what not to do.

  2. I disagree with you because having rules kind of feel weird. I think expectations are better. It is because for rules you are getting forced by the teachers but for expectations you are making sure about it to yourself so I think expectations are better.

    1. Thank you for your comment Lu. Actually, we don’t disagree since I agree with you! I recently said about these ‘rules’: “They aren’t really rules, and if I were to do this again, I’d call them ‘expectations’ instead”. I said this in a post about AUP’s – Acceptable Use Policies, which are policies about appropriate use of the internet and technology in schools. I also said that I didn’t think that AUP’s are needed because we should just have the same expectations for students online as we do in schools. So I completely agree with you that expectations are better than rules!
      Thanks again for commenting! 🙂

  3. I have read and understand the basic rules to posting in the social forum, dialogues and blogs. I think these rules are very good and reasonable because we should always be positive when interacting with other people especially over the internet. We should be respectful, we should learn, we should include everyone and also be safe at the same time. That’s why I think these rules are very good for us.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Kathy!

      I made these rules (or rather expectations) up myself and then shared them with the class. For something like this, should the class also have a say in what these rules are? Do you think that matters?
      Do you think there is something missing? What would you do or say differently if you were the teacher?

      I invite anyone to answer those questions… What do you think?

  4. I have read and I understand (for the most part) the basic rules to posting in the social forum dialogues and blogs. I think these rules are fairly positive and helpful. Despite the fact I don’t generally like rules, I think these rules are fair and sensible. I suppose we should learn, respect others, have fun, and be safe at the same time.

  5. I have read and understood the rules you are explainin to us here. I found this information to be very helpful. And I think that I find some of the rules to be very useful to others. I think the one I think is the most useful is the Inclusion one. Well, thanks for the rules! They will be very helpful to me!

  6. I have read and understood the rules you are explain to me. but how can personal imfomation be used by others?

    I think we should be carefully for the imfomations that we write about. Also i think we may use our computers as possitive.
    thank you!

  7. I agree with yours. This is maybe they are useful to us. Those of things what you wrote is right I think.. But somethings I didn’t understand and I think that is not right. Whatever I just agree with yours.

  8. I have read and I understand the basic rules to posting in the social forum dialogues and blogs. I agree because I think expectation is better than only rules. Because if only rules students might feel heavy.

  9. Well…
    I don’t really agree with your opinion.
    I don’t think that is necessary to make rules for this…
    We can just expectation is enough for seniors.
    Didn’t you/ Mr. Truss thought about that so let only seniors use laptop.
    Well… but I still think a bit of rules are good…
    I don’t know… what ever…
    Don’t trust me!!

  10. I understandthe basic information. I agree with your opinion, because rules are always right and it is respectful to follow the rules.

  11. I have read and I understand the basic rules to posting in the social forum dialogues and blogs…I agree with your rules, and I think they are really helpful. I also think we have to use the internet safely, and wisely.

  12. In my classroom, the idea of expectations seemed to be a popular idea regarding Internet use. Although, these rules were created with an online forum in mind. I wonder if we couldn’t transfer these rules for classroom Internet use.

    If that’s possible, I think we need add a few more expectations:

    1 (amended): Respect all learners. That means that when we’re in the classroom, please only use the Internet for educational purposes. If you download, visit pages for your own interests, and play online games, you’re using bandwidth that others could use for real learning.

    5: Think- Before you hit that submit button, ask yourself these questions: Is this how I want others to see me? Is this what I truly feel? What are some possible consequences if I press submit? Have I been thoughtful in my responses, ideas and in writing? Have I re-read what I wrote at least once and corrected mistakes?

    Also, I wonder if students understand why we have these expectations. Are students following these because a principal wrote them? Why are these expectations important?

  13. I have read and understood the rules but I think that these are expectations because it is easier to follow. I agree to your rules.

  14. I have read and understand the basic rules to posting in the social forum, dialogues and blogs. Blogs and dialogues can be very helpful. Some blogs are for education and there are other types of blogs. Blogs can be used to express how you feel on a subject and others can tell you what they think. That’s why I think these rules are very good for us because we need

  15. I have read and understand the basic rules to posting in the social forum, dialogues and blogs. I think rules should only be there where they are needed (In this school definitely not).

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