Before I jump into anything I like to read the fine print and before providing information online I really like to read the fine print. I am having a hard enough time writing my blog online because the information is public and is out there for whomever to read. Posting my own photos or further, posting my students photo/work through an online system poses even more problems for me. At least when I write something I am conscious (mostly) of what I am saying with the words I chose to put on the screen. I am aware of the font and choice of colour I chose to give my message. (having even doing this puts more emphasis on a sentence than was originally intended)
Images provide so much more that may be unintended. I let people know purposely or not what type of clothing I prefer, where I spend time, possibly what my home looks like and other information that is in the background that I haven't even thought of. Our eye works way more selectivey than the lense of a camera. When we take a photo our eye focuses on the subject we chose and selectively ignores everything else. The lense of a camera doesn't It still takes clear pictures of other things. In the olden days when I would take photos with film and get it back I was always surprised by what else was in the photo I took. It wasn't what I intended to share. I remember this one photo of my university graduation it was a group shot of my friends. In taking the photo I didn't realize in the background there was somebody mooning the camera. When I got it back I was shocked and then I wondered, "who's is that?" Now I could just PhotoShop it out and have a great photo. I haven't though. Somehow the naked bum has become part of the memory.
For this assignment I decided to look at photobucket. When I set up Facebook this was one of the applications that many of my friends (well, the few that I have added to the service) were using. Unlike the majority (as doug Achterman suggests in Surviving Wikipedia) I do read the terms of agreement and the disclaimer before using something) and first I am sure I wouldn't want to make my photos public (many of the photos I take are of my children and I don't that out there). If photos are made Public then you are giving license for all to use/enjoy in hopefully an unaltered form but you are also providing Photobucket with certain rights to the images.
Photobucket has an age requirement for using its site (14 yrs of age) or at least posting photos to the site. This limits children from using the site to share their work/projects.
I found it quite interesting perusing the site and random searches for information (including my hometown) produced some quality photos admist a bunch that we'll just say weren't. I even found some visuals to use in my marketing class next semester. I also found similar images using general searches using google and yahoo. I liked the fact that one doesn't have to be a member to browse images and copy images.
It appears very similar in use to other online photo image sharing sites and I can see why some choose to use it. I am using the all important information literacy tool of filtering and am choosing that the site isn't for me and I don't want to use the site. I am fine with emailing specific people photos that I chose to share. I can attach notes to these files to tell the story of the photo and I like the fact that it is a personal email to someone rather than a public statement.
I admit, I have used online photo imaging programs through future shop to make cards, wal-mart and shoppers drug mart to print copies of photos for frames, albums and family. Once I have printed the copies I want I generally delete the files online.
I think that for me being a browser of online photo image sharing sites is much more comfortable than being a provider. this might change in the future. I think I would also encourage students to read the terms of agreement before using a site and I would have them answer the question. Why do you want to use this program. What are the benefits of using it? What are the cons of using it. What are you giving to the provider in return for using the site. (the biggest thing here is information and of course an audience to their advertisers).
I also wonder about the rights of others that might be featured in the photos one posts to such sites (especially publically). I have a friend who is a coach for his son's hockey team. He is having problems with a parent of one of his son's hockey teammates. This parent is using online video sharing and photo sharing services to promote his son's hockey playing abilities. The problem for my friend, and some of the other parents, is that their children are also in these photos and they have given consent for their children to be there. These children are under ten years old and one of them is not supposed to have any photos publically shared for security reasons.
As a teacher, I don't think I could require students to share work on such sites. I would let them know of the options available to them and to look at the questions I posed above before using the site. legally, I don't know about sharing student work for all to see, at least I would know I wouldn't want student names and personal information shared. A big question for me is how do I use this technology without compromising my students privacy rights and parents trust that I am looking out for their best interest in the learning opportunities I provide.
Is it more important that I use these programs to celebrate students work and to provide them ways to showcase or to help students understand the uses of these programs and to help them make informed decisions on whether or not to use the sites. For me the later is more important. I have never taught a student on how to use their cell phone but they are all very able to use the multi-functions provided. I have though discussed with students etiquette surrounding use of phones, privacy issues that need to be considered, cost options of using phones, companies, services.
For some reason the fact that these programs exist online and are free to the general user makes many think its nothing to use the post, post personal information and share. the idea of selectively chosing to use a program or not is rarely considered. It seems more like people are chosing which one. With all of this being said, I am chosing not to personally add/use one of these sites at this time. Who knows, like the cell phone I am may be a convert one day but having read through the information, I am making an informed decision ( and albeit mark costing) decision not to.