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When a high school cheerleader in northeastern Pennsylvania learned that she might face criminal charges after investigators reported finding a nude photo of her on someone else’s cellphone, she was more confused than frightened at being caught up in a case of “sexting”: the increasingly popular phenomenon of nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones.
Almost unheard of a year or two ago, cases related to “sexting,” nude or seminude photos sent over wireless phones, are popping up all over the country.
What are the rules of the pedagogical road, here, in yet another bizarre exit on the New Media Super Highway?
Okay, like I don’t have enough to worry about trying to plan my New Media courses, which require relentless Twitter-like updating because so much happens every single minute. So I’m reconfiguring my language on the syllabus (again) about plagiarism to keep widening and deepening and broadening the big new media tent that it has become. (Post on that coming soon)
Next I come to the section on student conduct and appropriate classroom behavior to create an environment most conducive to learning with 77-82 students in a class.  I’m about discussion, engagement, exchange, not lecture alone…the bank deposit method where I have “The Knowledge” and you open your brain, receive it, vomit it back to me and I reward you for the reminder of my genius. Maybe it’s that I’m so confident in what I know and how crucial it is, that I’m comfortable with a conversation.  They teach me. I teach them.
Normally that happens and for the most part, my students end up feeling smarter and happier for having taken my class. Not all, of course, by any means. There are plenty for whom my style, the topic, my hair,  whatever, is simply enraging or whatever.  With new media, though, there are new implications. With new implications, come new lines on my syllabus. Like the one I’m putting on all my syllabi this term for the first time about how recording someone without their knowledge or consent is a Class A Misdemeanor in Oregon. If a student has a disability, that’s an entirely different set of rules. We will come to an agreement where all parties are made aware that recording is happening for this educational purpose.
But for the record, college students: In most states, it’s a crime to use any device to record someone without their knowledge or consent.  I hope to have a longer and more specific post on that soon as well.
I ask students to post photos of themselves with brief bios on our Blackboard discussion forum so I can start to learn their 77 or 82 names (I do that with my 27-person classes as well.) Many inevitably post photos from their Facebook pages: tube dresses made of yellow  police “CAUTION” tape, shots of body parts I don’t want to be able to identify in various stages of undress, dance moves that would make Elvis blush, a menagerie of images that, in the end, will not help me learn their names because their faces are smushed beneath ski caps, intertwinted with other faces or something else….you know the drill.
I show their posted photos and we do the “giggle test.” If your photo makes the class giggle, it’s not appropriate and would not make a potential employer giggle and it shouldn’t be on Facebook. I put that under “professionalism.”
There’s the usual no texting or Facebooking or im-ming in class unless I give you an assignment. And yes, I ask my students to commit various forms of new media during class.  A great way to bust them Facebooking in class is to get them to Friend you, and then during class when they have laptpos clacking away, just get on your Facebook page and see who else is on live. The kids LOVE that trick. Makes me seem very New Media hip. Once, when my students had a reporting assignment out of class and were supposed to be Twittering in from the field, one student didn’t come back to class. On the screen in front of the rest of the group I sent him a note on Facebook and Twitter — “Where are you? We’re all in the classroom waiting for you.” He wrote back and soon the door opened.
This is all appropriate and on point because these are New Media classes where we talk directly about the use, abuse, impact, relevance, dangers, emergence, transformation of new media in all forms. Plus I love playing with this stuff.
Now a new entry on the syllabus and in the Rules of the Road first-class talk. No sexting. Do I really have to say this? The New York Times says they’re sending naked pictures to each other in high school. In my 101 Intro to New Media class, most of the 77 or 82 students are in their first year of college. In fall term, the last school experience they had WAS high school.
Add this to my list. It’s child pornography and it’s a crime.
Remember when the most heinous crime we addressed in writing classes was the misplaced modifier?
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