Tag Archives: Sharing Info

Are You Real Michael?

With so many self- professed social media experts trolling Twitter, bogus blogs and other fake websites abound on the Web, it is becoming more and more difficult to know who is a real person looking for authentic connection, who is  a Bot, and who is in it to make a quick buck through blatant self-promotion. There are of course strategies to employ on Twitter to differentiate between legitimate people and scams, but sometimes it is really a tough call. This recognition between the fake and the real is what I want to share with you today. In hopes that you can not only help me solve this current investigation, but more importantly to start a conversation about how we can help our students make sense of all the characters on the web.

It started like this. I received this email this morning:


I was reading your blog today and saw that you accept guest contributions. I would love the opportunity to write for you!

Currently I write for The Professional Intern (www.professionalintern.com) and you can find samples of my writing there. I’ve got a few great post ideas that I think would mesh well with your readers, but I would be willing to write whatever you need.

I promise only original content with relevant links. Are you interested?

Let’s explore the clues as to why this is a scam:

  • This person did not sign their name.
  • Did not address me by name
  • Has never comment on my blog before
  • Did not name which of my blogs they want to write for
  • I have never said I “accept guest contributions”

Now let’s look at why it could be real:

  • The Blog looks legit
  • Descriptive About Page
  • I Googled long pieces of text and they all feed back to this blog
  • There is a Twitter account that looks new, but legit

Tough call right?

Dear Michael,

I hope you don’t mind that I have decided to share this experience publicly on my blog. Blogging is a public act and if you want to write for my blog and have read any of my work, you know that I think sharing, openness and transparency are vital to successful community building. If The Professional Intern is a legitimate blog, and I really want  it to be, then I hope that this post can be the place we start a dialogue. You see, I would actually love guest writers to share their thoughts here, but I see this space as an extension of who I am as an educator and as a person. It is very personal and important to me. While I would love as big of an audience as possible, I am not interested in rise to the top blogging schemes. I want to write honestly and creatively about things that are important to me as a teacher. I hope that I foster deep thinking and engagement with my tight knit group of readers. If I were to ask anyone to write for my blog, I would hope that they would be from this aforementioned family of readers.

It is not that I am saying no to your request, but I find it odd that you want to write for a blog you have never commented on before. I think that guest blogging and merging of networks and cross-pollination of ideas are fantastic. I just hope you understand my trepidation. I have worked hard to build my blog and do not feel comfortable opening it up to just anyone. For all I know I could be writing this heartfelt explanation to a Bot designed to generate emails for reasons I don’t understand. I could be writing a letter to spam. Now that would be embarrassing. But not really, Michael, because I have faith that you could be real, and if you are real then I hope this post will make you want to write on Intrepid Teacher even more.

Here’s the deal: If you are a real person who writes for The Professional Intern and still want to share some ideas here on Intrepid Teacher, please leave me a comment about why you chose this blog as a place to share your work, send me a list of possible ideas that you think my readers would enjoy, and let’s go from there. If this relationship does blossom, I hope that I could return the favor and post some ideas on your blog as well. If you are a specter of the web, then…well…I could just stop now.

Trying desperately to be sincere,


What do you think? Is this legit?If it is fake, why go through all of this? What is there to gain from setting up fake blogs and Twitter?  Is there a lesson here for students in recognizing Internet tomfoolery? If this is real, then was I offensive? What if Michael is just student learning? Will this interaction help him understand why someone might not see him as a person online? Is that okay?  Am I over thinking this again? Talk amongst yourself…Hopefully we can have a fun conversation in the comments


Shackled By Fear

I received this Tweet from colleague and Blog Alliance member Mark Bethune this morning, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I have a free prep, it is Friday, and I am going for it. As always, these thoughts have not been formally vetted and are rolling off the top of my head. Please humor me and play along, perhaps if you contribute, someday, I will actually write a post that resembles a flushed out thought. In the meantime, let the stream of consciousness roll, but first the Tweet:

Internet safety and students- I have been meaning to write on this topic for some time now, because honestly I don’t see what all the hype is about. I don’t understand what, exactly it is, that everyone is so afraid of. Maybe I am a bit naïve, no I am naïve there is no doubt about that, but I don’t see the danger. I am often left asking, “What exactly are parents, teachers, and schoolboards afraid will happen if Jane mentions that her last name is Doe and that she lives in Wisconsin? What will happen if she posts a picture of herself at a basketball game, or posts a video of her science project?” Before you start educating me on digital footprints and lasting impressions, I am not saying that we allow students a wild Facebook inspired free-for-all. I am simply saying that instead of telling student not to share anything personal, we speak with them about what to post why, and the effects it will have on them and their communities.

Ah, but there is the fear of the cyber-predator! Apparently there are bands of lascivious perverts trolling the Internet hoping to find innocent children who have made the mistake of sharing too much information about themselves. Then what? Are we worried that these faceless pedophiles will scour the earth, hunting down our children to snatch them away? Your child is more likely to be stalked and abducted by a stranger who stands outside their school and follows you home in your car than by some one finding information about them online.

Am I being too daft? Of course. Yes, I agree that children should be careful with what they share, they should be aware of the dangers of living a life online, not for the sake of being abducted, but of how it affects their identity and who they are. There many important conversations to be had about the impact of children sharing and living online, but they should not revolve around the danger of cyber-predators, because let’s face it most cases of kidnapping, sexual assault and even murder are done by people your children know. As I mentioned in the beginning, perhaps I am naïve. I have had a blog for my daughter since she was born as a way to stay in touch with her family around the world. I could have password protected it, but I chose not to because I think she is a dynamic amazing human being and I enjoy sharing her experiences with others. I think her spirit and developing voice have a place in the world. I feel that her character is contagious and I am proud of her. As she gets older, however, I am thinking more about whether it has been fair of me to choose to share so much of her life online without her consent. These are the issues I would like to discuss about sharing student work online, not safety, but that is a separate post.

I work with middle school kids, so my experience is with them. I am not sure how elementary teachers feel about posting pictures and names of students online but as a parent of a young child I would like my daughter’s teachers to be having these conversations with her in school, so we can decide as a family what we share and why and with whom. Her teacher recently created a blog for their classroom and her grandmother is ecstatic. Am I really worried that someone will find this blog buried in the haystack of other blogs and track her down? Is this really the concern? I just don’t see it. There is also the question of what a stranger could do with her photographs and yes this is disturbing. Alec Couros wrote a great post about this exact issue last year, I suggest you take a look. I am not sure this post is the place to flush out my thoughts on that, will try to get to it soon.

In closing, let me say that the most rewarding experiences I have had online, the most authentic and personal relationships have been because I shared more than I should have. The relationships I have built and maintain are rooted in the fact that I am more than a teacher who blogs. I am a full human being and I try to share that with the web. Different people connect to different aspects of my identity and I find this inspiring. If we want to teach students to truly connect and learn to become networked, how can we expect them to only share slices of themselves? How can we except them to make meaningful connections if all they write about is school, and only share the most mundane parts of their personalities? Why not allow them to create a youtube account, or post pictures on Flickr, to blog, to tweet, and see who they find? Sure they need our guidance, but they do not need our paranoia. If we want them to be global digital citizens then we have to allow them the freedom to be themselves. At a recent conference with Julie Lindsay we came up with some definitions of what a digital global citizen looks like:

  • Someone who is open and curious.
  • Someone who knows his or her identity is aware of their digital footprint and actively explores, creates, and promotes it
  • Someone who is aware and mindful of themselves, their community and the big picture of the world around them.
  • Someone who can communicate their views, feelings, and ideas respectfully and responsibly online.

My question is how can we expect students to be these things and afraid at the same time? We need to teach and guide our students to be open and share responsibly, but not shackle them with fear. It’s a lot like real life really. But please tell me I’m wrong. Convince me to be afraid…


Life as an Open Book

On June 4th, I gave a talk called Life as an Open Book at Qatar Academy for the first ever Tedx event put together by Julie Lindsay.

I spent quite a bit of time planning the talk, but the execution was not exactly what I had in mind. I was plagued by repetition, false starts, and a general sense of incoherence. I have attempted to piece together as much of the original talk as I could.

The main idea is:

How can we encourage teachers to look beyond their fear, follow their passions and begin to create open honest online identities that reflect their true selves in order to better connect with their students for a more authentic learning environment. Eventually creating a system that not only allows for teacher creativity and expression but actively promotes and encourages it, so teachers are not too busy or scared to express themselves online, and actually given time to reflect, create, and share.

Life as an Open Book from Intrepid on Vimeo.

I would appreciate any and all comments.


Master Learners

Every few weeks, Julie Lindsay gathers a few teachers at Qatar Academy to discuss learning and technology. Most people who read this blog, all two of you, probably already know Julie, but if you don’t she is an excellent member of any learning network, and I suggest you read her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about these meetings at this time, but please check out the wiki for more information on what we have discussed and a list of the guest speakers, which have included Gary Stager, Kim Cofino, and recently David Warlick. Not a bad list, thanks Julie!

It has been a pleasure to attend these meetings and learn from, not only the “experts,” but the members of the group who attend the meetings as well.

I am writing this post to firstly thank Julie and secondly to share this video:

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have much to say about it as this time, you can read Julie’s post for a more comprehensive overview, but I have had one thought that lingers in my head since we spoke:

Curiosity + discovery= Learning


Parrots on the Sill

Just a quick post adding more fuel to the fire of my Flickr “ID-This” fever! I wrote at length a few posts ago, about how Flickr helped me identify a caterpillar for my daughter; well today Flickr was at it again! When the weather cools in Doha, Qatar, we sometimes see flocks of wild parrots throughout town. Today, I saw three on my windowsill. I quickly snapped a few shots, posted them on Flickr with this message, “Can anyone help me identify them?” and sat back to wait. Within minutes I had my species: Psittacula krameri [Scopoli 1769]

I learned that these birds are most likely from West Africa in Guinea, Senegal and Southern Mauritania East to Western Uganda and Southern Sudan. Knowing this information makes me happy.

Just thought I would share. My brain is now reeling about how to use this in the classroom; I will share when I have a clearer picture. Please post any ideas!