The Negative Side of Posting Student Work

So apparently a parody video created by students at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Pennsylvania and posted to YouTube has been nominated as “the single worst video on the entire Internet.”  One could debate whether or not it is actually worthy of the title (I have seen worse), but I’m a little concerned about the negative attention it’s attracted.

If, like me, you’re an educator excited about integrating technology and showing off your students’ work, stories like this should give you pause.  Are we setting kids up for ridicule, scorn, and derision?  Not only from the general public, but also from their own peers and classmates? How are we preparing them for that possibility? Principal Lyn Hilt says it better than I can on her blog:

“When posting children’s work online (whether school-related projects or not), how do we help creators understand and use the types of feedback they may receive? Are we helping children develop into respectful, caring, empathetic human beings who can resist the urge to use profanity and hateful speech when remarking on the work of others?  (I wondered how many of the commenters, particularly those who attend the same school, would consider sharing their comments in a face-to-face conversation with the video creator. Is it easier to be disrespectful online?) How are we addressing these issues with our youngest students? With our pre-school children? How are we educating parents and communities about the types of online engagement and conversations that their children will be involved in, and how are we modeling the importance of respectful online dialogue? Are the teachers and administrators who helped promote the completion of the project now second-guessing allowing students to take risks and the ways in which technology is integrated into the curriculum?”

Some more questions: Should that video have been posted publicly in the first place, or was everyone convinced that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? How do the students that created it feel about it now? Do educators have a responsibility to prevent certain projects from becoming circus side shows?

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