Digital Citizenship in Out of Eden Learn: Our Community Guidelines

In recent months, the Out of Eden Learn team has been thinking hard about how we can improve our online community – especially our sense of community. In the fall, we unveiled our new dialogue toolkit, which is a set of suggested moves and routines designed to support meaningful dialogue on our platform. In the wake of a handful of incidents in which insensitive content was posted on Out of Eden Learn, we’ve now turned to the important matter of making explicit a set of principles and policies to help keep our community a safe, respectful, and learning-rich place.

In a Google+ hangout last month, educators Chris Sloan, Natalie Belli, and I discussed strategies for supporting digital citizenship in Out of Eden Learn and other online communities. As part of that conversation, I shared some initial guidelines for promoting authentic and respectful dialogue online. Since then, our team has worked to develop a full set of community guidelines, which I’m excited to share with you here. While the guidelines make clear the kinds of posts that are not tolerated in our community (the “don’ts”), we also underscore the importance of youth expressing themselves in authentic and meaningful ways (the “do’s”). In short, our emphasis in the guidelines is on principles that build towards the “sweet spot” of authentic and respectful engagement.

Out of Eden Learn Community Guidelines

Our Out of Eden Learn community brings together young people from diverse backgrounds and places. This diversity is one reason why our community is so exciting and valuable. Interacting with other young people is an important part of your learning journey. We need your help in keeping our community a safe and respectful place for all members. As you participate in Out of Eden Learn, we ask that you follow these guidelines:

Be Yourself: Share your thoughts, ideas, and personal stories. Out of Eden Learn is a place for sharing who you are, where you are coming from, and what you think. The community wants to hear from you!

Be Respectful: In addition to being yourself, please be sensitive and respectful so that no one in our diverse community feels hurt or offended. We do not tolerate negative posts or comments about an individual or one’s nationality, religion, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political views, or cultural practices.

Be Reflective: Before you share a post or comment, think about all the people who will be able to read it (students in your class, other students in your walking party, teachers, Paul Salopek). A few things to think about: How could your post or comment be interpreted by different members of the community? What kinds of online comments might upset you? Could someone feel uncomfortable with or hurt by something you are posting? How could you change the wording or content of your post to prevent any concerns?

Speak Up: If you notice a post that seems insensitive, hurtful, or inappropriate, please contact a teacher, parent, or the Out of Eden Learn team. You can email us at; click Report a Problem at the bottom of any page on our site; or click Flag on a specific comment. If you report a post or comment, other students will not know that you reported it. A teacher or parent will be asked to talk with the student, who will edit or remove the post.

Be Compassionate: We all make mistakes. If someone has posted something hurtful or inappropriate, they may have not realized their mistake but will be asked to think about and edit their post. Please do report concerning posts but also try to be forgiving if someone has reflected on and apologizes for an inappropriate post. Be compassionate to yourself, too, if you make a mistake.

Listen Carefully: When reading other young people’s work, pay close attention. Notice details about what they are saying and sharing. Try to understand their point of view.

Engage Thoughtfully: When commenting on other young people’s posts or comments, please write in full sentences and be thoughtful. See the dialogue tools and thinking routines embedded in each comment box for ideas of different kinds of comments you could make.

Please note: The following types of posts/comments are considered inappropriate in our community.

  • Posts or comments that include negative statements about a person or whole groups of people (e.g., a nationality, a race or ethnicity, a gender, a religion, etc.)
  • Posts that will likely make others feel uncomfortable – e.g., a sexually suggestive photo.
  • Posts that include personal information about the student who is posting and therefore break our privacy guidelines – e.g., one’s own or another person’s email or Facebook address, home address, photo.

These guidelines will be prominently featured on our website soon. However, we by no means consider them to be final. Rather, we see this as a “living” set of principles that we will refine over time, with the input of Out of Eden Learn educators and youth. We welcome your comments and suggestions!  To learn more about our efforts to build community on Out of Eden Learn, check out our new video:

This video is also available on Vimeo.

Interesting in joining Out of Eden Learn? Click here to find out how to register for a new learning journey. We are now offering two different learning journeys: Walking the World Part 1: The Present and the Local (which was available in the fall) and Walking the World Part 2: The Past and the Global (which will be available at the end of January and follows on from Part 1).

One comment

  1. […] youth living in different contexts, cultures, and parts of the world.  As I’ve discussed in a prior post, our hope is that youth will connect with one another on our platform in authentic, sensitive, and […]

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