Student photos, and especially linking names with specific photos, is a common concern that comes up when blogging, sharing videos, or using other web services online.
Information that helps someone identify a student should always be shared with care.
What you need to consider
Even though 99.99% of visitors to your class blog will be well meaning parents, students, community members, or interested visitors from around the world, the unfortunate reality is that those with bad intentions can also visit public sites. There are also cases where the personal background of a student might mean they need more privacy and anonymity than others.
Decisions on whether to use student photographs or not is often about protecting educators from having problems with parents, caregivers or administrators who have concerns about cyber-predators.
Before using any student photos online, even on a private blog, you need to:
- Find out your school, district or Education Department guidelines for sharing student photos online — make sure you follow these guidelines.
- Find out if there are forms caregivers and students need to sign to consent to use of student photos online — make sure you have all forms signed by parents or caregivers.
- Respect the wishes of caregivers and students while understanding consent to use photos can be withdrawn at any time.
Remember it isn’t possible to stop parents, students and caregivers from downloading photos and sharing them on their social networks, even if you are using a private blog. If you don’t want a photo shared on a social network then don’t upload the photo.
- Avoid the use of any photos that can identify individual students. A safe compromise is to only use photo taken from behind students.
- Don’t use student photos for their avatars.
- If you do use any photos of students – don’t use their name in the file name and don’t refer to the student by name, even their first name, in the caption under the photo or in the post.
A safe photo
This photo has been taken from behind. Students can’t be recognized and the photo doesn’t refer to any individual student.
What you shouldn’t do
The photo above has been named john_smith.jpg , includes the name of the student in the caption and you could identify the student from the photo.
Also any one could easily find this image in Google Images, due to the file name john_smith.jpg, if the blog was set to ‘Allow search engines to index this site’.
But if you do….
If you are allowed to use photos where you can recognize individual students, and you have decided you want to do this, then we recommend you word the photo like the example above so it doesn’t include the student’s name and DON”T rename the file name to include the student’s first and last name.
Don’t forget comments
These guidelines also need to apply to any one leaving comments on the blog.
If a family member is writing a comment, they should identify themselves as “_____’s mom” or “______’s dad”, instead of using their name and they shouldn’t refer to name of the student in the photo.
What do you think?
What advice would you give? What resources do you use with students to teach them about Internet Safety and privacy?
Let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to add it to the post!