Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Do You Ever Look at the Terms of Service?

Whether you agree or disagree with the level of blocking on your school network, most of us work in an environment of filtered internet access in our schools. There are many times that I wonder why a particular site is being blocked because it offers a potential to enhance learning in the classroom. What I found out was quite of the factors we take into account is the terms of service. When you are evaluating a website, do you ever go look at the terms of service? Within the terms of service, there is usually an age requirement or a parental consent requirement. Let's look at a couple terms of service from two popular websites. 

Example 1 - Minors under the age of 13 not permitted. If the laws of your country of residence so permit, minor children may utilize a Prezi account established by their parent or legal guardian, with such parent or guardian’s approval. If you permit your minor child or legal ward (“Child”) to use the Service, you hereby agree to these Terms of Use on behalf of both yourself and your Child. You further agree that you are solely responsible for any and all use of the Service by your Child regardless of whether such use was authorized by you.
Use of the Service by Minors 13 and Older. Users must be 13 years of age or older to use the Service. By using the Service you represent that you are 13 or older, and that you will not permit a minor under the age of 13 to use the Prezi Service, your Prezi account, or otherwise interact with the Service. Prezi will never knowingly solicit, nor will it accept, personally identifiable information from visitors or users known to be under thirteen (13) years of age.
As you can see, students using this service must be 13 or have parent consent. If you read through the above text, you see that these terms of service come from the popular presentation website Prezi. Have you seen students under 13 using Prezi? I know that I have and I wonder if they had parental permission. Something tells me no. 

Example 2 - If you are under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.
This one was a bit of a surprise to me...this is from Storybird. Storybird is a great tool for students of all ages. It is a great tool for authentic learning, but even it has age restrictions. Many other popular sites have age restrictions such as Voice Thread, WeVideo, and more. Does this mean that students under the age of 13 cannot use these websites? Absolutely not. Teachers just need to communicate with parents about the website and how it will be used. A hassle maybe, but you are modeling the ethical use of Internet resources. Whenever we can model positive digital citizenship, that is a plus for our students.
So the next time you find a great web resource, make sure to check out those terms of service. With all this being said I don't believe in blocking just because of the terms of service but that is a debate for another day and another blog post!