Monthly Archives: March 2015

EDTECH 541: The Walled Garden

This week is about social media and using it to engage the students. To motivate us for the blogging assignment, we read a blog / wiki addition, about a Walled Garden- the idea of keeping people safe from the hazardous information on the web. I actually like that metaphor because it is like we want to protect individuals. I actually do agree that with schools, there needs to be some firewall to protect students and to help prevent them from the temptation of goofing off when they should be getting work done.

One thing that rung for me, however, is the situation in North Korea and China. I recently watched a news segment published by DW, a German television network, who had a highly censored trip to North Korea. I got the impression people in North Korea don’t even know the Internet exists, nor do they have a clue why they would even want to know anything about any other country. Again, North Korea highly controlled where the German news media could go and who they could talk to so what I saw was even very limited. North Korea is not behind a sweet walled garden; they are behind a fortress. China knows there is an Internet, but from what I understand, they have items censored and are limited to what they can access online. I do not want the extreme of either of these situations for our students.

If anything, I would want to block them from pornography and illicit sites. We need to teach them self control. I don’t want to block games because there are educational games online that could be blocked. I don’t want to block YouTube because I think that hurts teachers more than students, however I could go for a password protected YouTube. That is still a pain in the neck at times, though. (I used to just download the YouTube videos I wanted to show my students, and show them from a flash drive so I did not have to worry if I could even access the Internet during class time.)

I made a tiny VoiceThread presentation per our professor’s request. Fortunately I have the Boise State email address because I’m not even able to access the one I used to pay for. I can’t even access it at a free level.  Fortunately after re-reading the assignment directions, I realized that what I originally made, while creative, was not appropriate. I needed to utilize more academic resources than just the Walled Garden. While integrating the second resource, I figured out how to add more than one comment per slide, which makes me very happy.

Apparently my version of WordPress does not allow embedding.  The first link is from going into text mode (for the WordPress post) and trying to use embed code that way.

It converts iframe notation into a link, not an embedded frame.

The second link is just putting a link to the VoiceThread. I’m sorry it won’t embed or open automatically here; you will have to view it in a new window / tab.

Melissa’s Walled Garden VoiceThread

References used in the VoiceThread:

Enterprise, Q. (2015). Walled garden. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from

Making progress: Rethinking state and school district policies concerning mobile technologies and social media (Rep.). (n.d.). CoSN’s Participatory Learning in Schools: Policy & Leadership.

EDTECH 541: Safety Advice for my Students

Safety advice for my students:

  • Do not give out any specific personal information like your street address or your bank account number. You can say that you live in Baltimore and bank at BB&T, but nobody needs to know the details about you. Even if you have Skyped or done a Google Hangout and you think you are now best buds, unless you actually know this person and have truly seen who they are and what they do, assume the worst. If you have never seen the person, always assume that an “anonymous” person is some lewd person who only wants to rob you for your money or your identity. Paranoid yet?
  •  Don’t piss anyone off. Sure, you don’t know me yet, so I really don’t have the freedom to be so liberal with my words, but I want them to stick. Don’t say anything or suggest anything that would embarrass the most proper person you know. So if you have an old-fashioned grandmother who finds words like the ones I’m using to be offensive, ask yourself before you hit send (or enter) if what you are saying would offend your grandmother.
    • This is how I had to learn how to temper my words and attitude. Do not be angry with yourself if you find that you need to retake your temperament inventory more often than you expected. I am one who has a very hard time imagining real people with real feelings or emotions when all I see in front of me is a computer screen, and occasionally a really cute cat. Just like I have posted on my screen to copy before I submit, I really should post something like, “Do you really want to say that to Grandma?” (or my boss or to whatever person scares me the most)
  •  Don’t offer to help anybody in person. This goes along with #1, but instead of having someone come to you and bother you, don’t go to them and have them take you to who knows where. Let the wires and hardware maintain a barrier between you and anybody you meet online.
  •  If you were not paranoid yet, please allow me to remind you that once something goes on the Internet, it will always be available, at least in theory. The wayback machine website captures images of what has changed on the Internet continuously. In theory you can go to any website and look at how it existed in the past. So if you tell someone you love them in a Tweet that shows up on some person’s webpage, there is a chance this declaration will be saved forever. As tempting as it is to start a blog and get your name out there, you still need to be cautious to not be so controversial that you cause yourself to lose a job, or possibly not even get hired in the first place. The Internet currently has an endless memory. Once you post something, you have started creating your digital identity. [For more information about the Wayback Machine, check out the article from the New Yorker:]


where electronic aggression happens

Cyberbullying data

  • Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. (or something like that)  Be nice. Don’t say hurtful or mean things, even in jest. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve offended someone who did not appreciate my sense of humor. Even the little j/k or <grin> is not enough to get someone else to interpret what I said as a joke. You don’t want to accidentally invite someone to become more interested in you than as a regular person they interact with online. Just like we can’t really make gestures to people who anger us on the road because we don’t know if they are going to pull out a gun and shoot us, we should not make rude or uncomfortable suggestions online.
    • I have had to develop a sense of humor. After all, I enjoy spending time with teenagers. Even though I take their needs and concerns seriously, I can’t let myself be grossly offended every time one of them leaves me a message indicating s/he is displeased with something I have done, or not done.  I have come to learn, the hard way, that I am somewhat rare with this personality trait. It is almost like, if it can be misinterpreted and can tick off someone, it will.  I’ve gone to workshops and I learned the “QTIP” mantra at a Fred Pryor seminar. It stands for quit taking it personally. Fortunately my husband was with me and sometimes when I’ve said or done something that has obviously offended him, I have to say “q-tip” because I am just making comments to vent my frustrations. They are not being directed at him. The q-tip diffuses the situation. You can’t q-tip strangers. It just does not work that way. If you can think before doing, and think before saying, you will do well, my grasshopper.  In case it is not obvious, cyberbullying falls in this area. Don’t do it, even as a joke. Respect everybody, their opinions, their backgrounds, their demographics, their ideas, or even what they wear in the lower third (a Google Hangout reference). You don’t have to agree with anything they do or say, but you don’t have to tell them how much you disagree with them. You can just let them be happy in their own little world. You don’t have to share yours or your opinions with them.

For more information check out:

About the Internet archive. (2014). Retrieved from

Cronin, C. (2012, December 19). Enacting digital identity. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from

Cyberbullying. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from

Internet Safety. (2015). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from

Lepore, J. (2015, January 26). The cobweb: Can the Internet be archived? The New Yorker. Retrieved from

National Children’s Advocacy Center. (2015). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from

Safety tips. (2010, September 14). Retrieved from

To accompany the idea of being safe online, we created an Internet activity this week. Mine can be found at: I am asking students to create presentations online that address the issue of vaccination, with a focus on Measles. If you are interested, I hope you will visit my project page for EDTECH 541 this week.