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Bebo Begone?

August 10, 2006

Ewan McIntosh pointed out the dominance of Bebo in the UK, and also picked up on the warningsbeing handed out to American freshmen (new students?) with regards to social networking in schools/colleges. Out of curiousity, I decided to find out how easy or difficult it would be to access Bebo…

The first thing I had to do was create a Bebo account – this was ridiculously easy, and the only “check” was the sending of an email to verify my account (I used a disposable mailbox for the purpose as I don’t really want the pupils signing me up for the Times Ed Mailing List).

Next, I selected my school (Perth Academy) from the Schools tab, and suddenly found myself flung into a frighteningly different web experience… let’s put it this way, when David Warlick talks about the new literacy, I don’t really think this is what he meant!

I began by looking through the pupils listed for the school and within a relatively short space of time was able to get lots of personal info about the pupils: date of birth, personal email addresses, a mobie phone number, and enough information to work out where some of them live. Add to this the conversations and lifestyle information that is freely bandied about and one begins to sense the dangers that these sites could pose.

Some thoughts

I am worried. We are letting children loose without any real guidance, and, of course, that is a large part of the attraction for kids. It is, after all, theirworld. I am a digital immigrant, they are the natives… but that doesn’t mean I should just ignore what they are doing. It’s not simply a moral dilemma… at the end of the day, they have every right to publish what they want on their webspace… it is more to do with whether we as educators want to let them loose without trying to explain the consequences of what they are publishing. The lessons of the American experience should be taken on board and discussed further with our pupils and children. As Aaron Laushway, associate dean of students at the University of Virginia, said: “I think [students] don’t realize that others have so much access”.

I’ll be returning to school next week, and I intend having an informal chat with some of the pupils I have previously taught and who are on bebo. I’d like to find out why they value bebo, and what they think is or is not acceptable to post… could be interesting!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2006 12:56 am

    We are letting children loose without any real guidance,
    Hi Neil,
    One of the important ideas about blogging with children is that we are modelling ‘good’ behaviour and giving the children a chance to use web 2.0 tools in a responsible manner. In exactly the same way as we model good manners and politeness in the ‘real’ world. I tell my children that blogging is similar to going on a school trip, they get fun but are representing themselves and their school and need to take on that responsibility. They may choose to act in other ways outside school but at least we will have shown them an alternative and given then a chance to practice.

  2. August 11, 2006 1:09 am

    You are, of course, correct. I think what I was saying when I wrote that (yesterday) is that I’ve seen the light. In other words, it is time to start showing my pupils how to blog by letting them see examples of what we could consider ‘good’ practice, and the best way to do this is by example.
    As a relative ‘newbie’ to the blognomenon (I love English!), I’m very much feeling my way.
    BTW: Thanks for commenting! I think you are my first ever ‘real’ commentor, and a celebrity to boot! ;0)

  3. sally (mother) permalink
    June 18, 2007 12:04 pm

    why is like every school blocking bebo n other good sites why do this, it makes the kids angry and then they try and find other ways round it, so i think we should let them on it.This way they will enjoy school more and once they are let on it they will soon get bored with it and forget about going on it. Trust me i have two children and when they first got bebo they loved it and now they dont seem to like it anymore.It will work.

  4. June 18, 2007 7:54 pm

    I think the real issue with blocking sites in schools is that there is (as things stand at the moment) very little educational use for the sites. This is not to say that there couldn’t be educational uses in the future, just that there is very little at the moment.

    One other real problem is that pupils do not differentiate between using the sites for a valid educational purpose and using them because they are disenfranchised from the work they are supposed to be doing… and in this respect, there is still as strong case for limiting access in schools (which is, of course, not the same as blocking access).

    What is frustarting is not actually the Bebo question as such, it is all the other tools that we are prevented from accessing that could be so useful for enhancing the work done by pupils and teachers…

  5. Justin permalink
    July 15, 2007 11:31 pm

    Hi, I have just finnished doin my GCSE’s at school.
    The reason i am wriitin is to tell you that we can access any website we like using a proxy server, although alot of proxy servers are blocked, alot are not and makes it easy for us to access any website we want especially bebo.
    At the time i was at school i was frustrated that sites were blocked but now i see the reason for why they are blocked but pupils at school spend there time looking for proxy websites than doing anywork. So the way i see it why block websites when it is very easy to get on them.

  6. July 16, 2007 6:22 am

    Thanks for the comment Justin.
    I am well aware of the use of proxies by pupils. I also think you’ve got it right when you say pupils at school spend their time looking for proxy sites… but I really do think this gets to the heart of the problem. Why are we not explaining to, and teaching the pupils about why some sites are inappropriate?
    It would be very easy to stop pupils accessing proxies in school, but removing the internet is perhaps a bit drastic… 😉

  7. November 25, 2007 9:41 pm

    Great free web proxy that gets me into myspace from my school library! All other proxies are blocked and this one is 10 times faster than any other I’ve used.

    Also NO POPUPS!!!

  8. acebrett permalink
    January 13, 2008 6:47 pm

    hi im someone who goes on bebo this is why we go on it…

    we express ourselves freely meeting people with same intrests and talking to our mates and stuff well englands bebo is cool 😆

  9. January 13, 2008 7:27 pm

    @acebrett: Thanks for the comment! I agree that it’s a place to meet your friends and others with the same interests. I have also found some really good uses for it should we be allowed to use it in school…

    BUT… that also makes it more important for new users to be told what is and isn’t a good idea to post on your space. Internet safety is really important, and there’s plenty of good advice out there… have a read of this to find out what a seventeen year old pupil has to say:

    Mr W


  1. Who watches the watchers… « Mr W’s Blogging Great Thing

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