Google Apps is starting to challenge me in lots of different ways. I like it, but boy you have to be ready for it. This week? Sites.

Children have the ability to make their websites public, to the whole world. Now, I have said to the children that I don’t want them to do this without checking with me first and they have been good and asked. Today I had 3 requests to make sites public.

Site 1. A comic site where some Year 4 boys (8-9year olds) want to make and sell comic books with the money going to charity. Fantastic! Except on the order page, it includes the child’s name and address. Hmmm maybe not then. Also their prices were very low, business chat with them tomorrow.

Site 2. A topic site that a year 6 child has made. It’s the site based around their human body topic and I like the info on it, the colours are horrible, all red and black, but hey it’s not my site. The problem? Comments are enabled.May need to investigate comments bit further. I don’t want to approve all comments, but I don’t want children seeing potentially dodgy comments either.

Site 3. One about cats. Now this isn’t the most technical site and I haven’t verified the facts, but I like it, it’s sweet. She has put a lot of time into it and I think it is geniunely possible to make it public. So that led me to some conversations…

I asked fellow Google Teachers on Twitter for their thoughts and people said parents should provide permission or that I should check e-safety (I had) and then switch it on.After some great discussion I decided to turn it on.

Now I am left thinking how do we publicise these sites that the children make? Maybe they could enter them into a Google Form for me to collate? I think a site will need to meet certain rules before it can be made public.

Do we need parental permission? I think I do because the site will name the child, it would be impossible to contact her, but her name is visible. So do I do this on a site-by-site basis? Or do I do a blanket letter at the start of the year/Key Stage 2?

This is really challenging me, but it is an awful lot of fun. I can see some schools that will not touch this stuff with a bargepole but me? I won’t back away from a bit of fun and a huge learning opportunity for the children. If anything, this will firm up their e-safety lessons and make them more relevant. It has also backed up my need for a strong ICT policy and Acceptable Use Policy for the children. Let’s hope this week is a little quieter…

PS: Once my policy is approved, I will share it.