Monday, September 26, 2011

Kid radar flags own errors

Yesterday, a student emailed me, begging me to remove a post he had made that he realized had crossed the line.  After 30 minutes, he couldn’t get back in to edit it (a Moodle restriction), so he needed me to make the change.  He had gone over the bounds of good taste, using vocabulary that would be acceptable in the locker room, but not so good in the classroom.

As it happens, I had seen his post, but decided to wait until school to mention it and then take action.  He beat me to it. 

Last year, I had a similar situation with another student, only this was posting an image that was off-color.  He, too, realized on his own that he had erred, and brought it to me before I ever had a chance to bring it to him. 

Part of letting kids explore online environments like Moodle is that it lets them make these kinds of mistakes in a controlled environment (I get an email for every post) that doesn’t expose their mistakes to the entire world. 

Better still, they had the chance to listen to their own internal radar – that something was off – and to respond to it.  Their self-corrections were spot-on.  And they will remember this for a long, long time.

All  I had to do was agree with their assessment and remove the offending material.  

Not all “off” material even gets posted.  Lots of kids will be working in the computer lab and ask me if something – especially an image – is okay.  Their radar flagged it, but they want to get adult affirmation that their radar is right.  Of course not all kids identify their posts as inappropriate, but I don’t get the usual protests when I discuss it with them, so I suspect they secretly agree when I flag their work.

So cool.  Students get to try it out, use their radar to identify what shouldn’t be posted, and self-correct.  Simple.   Elegant.   The situation teaches them.  My favorite kind of learning.

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