Saturday, October 24, 2015

Activity 8 - Legal contexts and digital identities.

Teachers certified to practice in New Zealand are committed to fulfilling the highest of standards of professional standards.

These standards are governed by four fundamental principles:

  • Autonomy to treat people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
  • Justice to share power and prevent abuse of power
  • Responsible care to do good and minimise harm to others
  • Truth to be honest with others and self.
Application of the Code of Ethics shall take account of the requirements of the law as well as the obligation of teachers to honour the Treaty of Waitangi by paying particular attention to the rights and aspirations of Māori and tangata whenua.  (Educational Council)

In terms of the the above principles, common sense must be upheld the most.

In school where personal devices are so common, it is hard for a school to "police" the use of these.  Especially when it comes to using smart phones or accessing personal social media sites on school equipment during class time.
This is where legal and ethical issues come into play.
The use of you smart phone to take of photo of a student in your class or record their voice is just so handy.  BUT do you have permission to do this?

As a parent of a student in my school who is on the Autistic Spectrum, I was appalled to hear a voice recording begin shared during lunch in the staff room by a reliever teacher who wanted to get advice on how to handle a child in the class that they were relieving in using inappropriate language.  The voice recording was of my child!  BUT as a teacher I can understand that this reliever was just wanting some advice to help her handle the situation in class.

As a parent, I have signed a consent form for photos, video and voice recordings to be used in school for educational purposes for my child.  I guess that the teacher could also argue that she took the recording for educational purposes in order for her to educate herself on the needs and behaviours of a student on the spectrum.  So how does the school deal with this?  Is it illegal for the teacher to have recorded the student/my son?
With both hats on my head, teacher and mum I don't think it it illegal.  But as a mum and a teacher I do think it was ethnically wrong to play the recording in an open forum such as a staff room.  If the teacher had thought of autonomy and responsible care principles of the Code of Conduct, maybe she would have chosen a better forum in which to play her recording to gain further knowledge.

It is hard for a school to 'police' personal use of devices BUT it is not hard for the school to form policies that will protect the identities of students, teachers and protect them from harm.


Copyright Council of New Zealand. (2015).  Retrieved October 24, from Copyright Council of New Zealand:

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