Are Kids Under 13 Being Left Out? Maybe Not.

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Those of you working with students under the age of 13 have probably found that the terms of service of many sites you would like to use with students specifically state that anyone under the age of 13 are strictly prohibited from using their sites. For example, if you look at the terms of service for Ning (http://www.ning.com), you will find the following:

The Ning Platform is not directed to children younger than 13 and is offered only to users 13 years of age or older. If you are under 13 years old, please do not use the Ning Platform. Any person who provides their personal information through the Ning Platform represents to us that they are 13 years of age or older.

This can be a huge downer. Thankfully, many sites are starting to come around in an effort to bring their services equally to all no matter what the age, while at the same time meeting safety regulations.

Some sites like Voicethread (http://ed.voicethread.com), Animoto (http://animoto.com/education) and Weebly (http://education.weebly.com/) have opened specific portals on their sites targeted toward students, giving them access in a more controlled environment.

However, if you read the terms of service on some of these sites, there appears to be a contradiction. For example, on Weebly, the terms state:

Users under 13 years of age are prohibited from using the Service.

When faced with these contradictory statements, don’t take them at face value. Email the company and ASK QUESTIONS! Quite often, these terms of service statements were written prior to the launch of a site’s education portal and have not been edited to reflect new thinking.

I’ve had two recent experiences where this was the case. The first example is Aviary (http://www.aviary.com). Like Ning, their terms stated that students under 13 were strictly prohibited. But after I sent them an email expressing that they could still protect students while keeping up with all safety/privacy regulations by requiring parental permission, they changed their terms to state:

In any case the Site is not intended for children under 13 without the constant supervision of a parent or legal guardian. If you are under 13 years of age and not under the constant supervision of a parent or legal guardian, then please do not use the Site. You certify that you are legally permitted to use the Services and access the Site, and you or your legal guardian take full responsibility for the selection and use of the Services and access of the Site.

This happened again with Weebly. While Weebly offers an education portal, their terms of service state that students under 13 are prohibited. After emailing, and again questioning the terms of service, I received the following reply.

You can disregard our terms of service age restriction in this case. It needs to be updated. We have a note when creating student accounts that if students are under 13 years old, parental consent must be obtained.

The moral of this story…Ask Questions and Initiate Change.

Have any of you had a similar experience?

NL News: January 18, 2010

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Visit this link for the January 18th, 2010 edition of  November Learning News. In this issue, we invite you to:

  • Learn more about BLC10 keynoter Rahaf Harfoush.
  • Contribute to Alan’s upcoming book, Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm.
  • Learn more about and schedule an NL Mini-Conference at your school or in your district.
  • Contribute to Haiti relief efforts.

Alan November Featured in Curriculum 21

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Alan November has a chapter in Heidi Hayes Jacobs newly released book Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Through his contribution, Alan discusses how educators can rethink control in their classrooms by introducing new roles for developing empowered learners.

In this book, World-renowned curriculum designer Heidi Hayes Jacobs leads an all-star cast of education thought leaders who explain:

  • Why K–12 curriculum has to change to reflect new technologies and a globalized world.
  • What to keep, what to cut, and what to create to reflect 21st century learning skills.
  • Where portfolios and new kinds of assessments fit into accountability mandates.
  • How to improve your use of time and space and groupings of students and staff.
  • What steps to take to help students gain a global perspective and develop the habits of mind they need to succeed in school, work, and life.
  • How to re-engineer schools and teaching to engage and improve students’ media literacy.

Watch the video below to learn more about this book. Additionally, information is available at http://www.novemberlearning.com/jacobs.

Consider Supporting Relief Efforts in Haiti

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In support of the tragic event and ongoing relief efforts in Haiti, we urge you to consider making a donation to the American Red Cross.

According to the American Red Cross:

Countless requests have come from people wanting to help.  The best way to do that is to make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donors can designate their gifts to Haiti relief.  Donations to the International Response Fund allows the American Red Cross to respond to global emergencies and disasters.

In addition, several hundred thousand people have chosen to make a mobile donation.  Donors can text “Haiti” to 90999 on their cell phone to send a $10 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.  The mobile giving effort raised more than $3 million by Thursday morning, and all money raised goes to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Learn more about the American Red Cross relief effort.

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