Glogster is a web based app that can be used by teachers and students to create posters. These posters can be made into book reports, short stores, or reports. Each poster has a link on the Internet. These links can be set to private or public. A private link can only be viewed by registered Glogster education users. A public link can be viewed by anyone in the world.
When using the Glogster education version, students become part of a learning community. This means they can view classmates’ work, as well as work done by students from other schools. Students can comment on the posters to offer encouragement.
Glogster offers many benefits to educators. For example, they can set up a project, monitor student work, grade online, and quickly create presentations of completed glogs. However there are some shortcomings. To overcome them, it is important that all educators emphasize the importance of being a good digital citizen to protect students’ safety and privacy.
How to Overcome the Top 6 Problems with Glogster
Problem 1: Unable to Lock Profiles
Student profiles cannot be locked. This means your students can change their photo, name, and status whenever they want. Why is this a major problem? Children often think it is very funny to change their name to something silly or change a picture to something inappropriate. With no way to prevent profile changes, it is essential for teachers to discuss the importance of responsible digital citizenship. Students need to understand that their “digital self” is a reflection of themselves.
Problem 2: No Way to Moderate Status Updates
Status is part of a Glogster profile. It appears as a callout bubble beside the profile picture. The status feature is a great way to send a welcome message to viewers. However, it is also a way to share inappropriate messages with friends. Since there is no moderating system a teacher cannot determine when a status has been changed. For this reason, you need a rule that outlines the criteria for an appropriate status update.
Problem 3: Privacy Concerns!
Student profiles in Glogster allow a user to add their full name, birthdate, and list details such as personal interests. Anyone can view a Glogster profile if they have a Glogster account. Moreover, if a glog is set to “public” anyone can see the profile. This is a safety issue. To protect your students ask them avoid posting their full name, birthdate, or school name. It is a good idea to keep interests blank as there is no reason for this information to be shared.
Problem 4: No Way to Moderate Comments
Students can view each other’s glogs and post comments. This is a great way to foster a learning community. However, the drawback is that comments cannot be moderated by the teacher. A student can write anything they want in the comment box. To avoid the abuse of this feature emphasize the importance of being polite. You may wish to draft a set of Commenting Guidelines.
Problem 5: Profiles Can be Shared using Social Media
I dislike this feature the most. If a person views a glog they can click the nickname link to see the profile of the creator. Social media buttons allow a link to the profile to post to Facebook or Twitter. Teachers need to protect their students’ privacy. For this reason, make absolutely certain that Glogster profiles reveal NO personal information and use an avatar instead of a student photograph.
Problem 6: Comments and Classmates are Visible
As a teacher I would prefer that comments and classmates were only viewable by users assigned to a particular class. Unfortunately this is not the case. When someone views a glog, they can read all comments posted and see a list of classmates. This emphasizes the need to make sure that comments posted by students do not reveal personal information and are appropriate. Moreover, it highlights the importance of using an avatar and not a student photograph.
How I Solved the Privacy and Security Issues with Glogster
I wanted to use Glogster with my students. It is an excellent education product that offers wonderful possibilities. Here is what I did to solve the privacy and security issues:
- Prior to using Glogster I gave a Digital Citizenship mini-lesson.
- I drafted a Glogster Agreement. As a class we read/discussed each point. All students had to sign the document and I keep it on file as a reference. If students do not follow the terms of the agreement they cannot use Glogster. (I will post a copy in my next blog post)
- I had all my students create avatars to use as their profile picture. (I will post instructions for some excellent sites and how to capture the images.)
- Student profiles list name as First Name with Last Initial.
- Birthdate on all student profiles are set to January 1, 2014.
- All other profile information must remain blank.
- Status updates must be related to the task and be appropriate. To give students a frame of reference I tell them the principal or your grandma should be able to read it.
- I have planned a Commenting lesson prior to sharing our glogs and during that class everyone will sign a Commenting Agreement document.
- All glogs will remain Private.
- I wrote Glogster customer support and requested changes to the system. Please do that too! Maybe we can get some privacy/security features added.
My students enjoy using Glogster. By being proactive and recognizing some of the shortcomings, we are able to use this service safely. So can you!