While innovative educators know that empowering students to use their own devices for learning is necessary for student success, the conversation of cyberbullying often comes up as well. Not only are student-owned devices great learning tools, they also are great tools for helping to address cyberbullying if you’re using a tool such as Cel.ly. Cel.ly is a powerful tool for teaching and learning as shared in my book Teaching Generation Text and on my blog. It is also a tool that can be used to set up an anonymous resource to report bullying. Here is how schools can setup their own anonymous tip lines.
Step #1: Whomever will be the administrator of the bullying report line, needs to first sign up for a Celly account at http://cel.ly/signup (you can add secondary admins later on if needed). Sign up with your email address and verify your account.
[How to Sign up video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnX0bfEy9Fw]
Step #2: Start a cell -- this will be the group where anonymous tips are sent. So pick a good name for it that students/staff will recognize (e.g., “@JohnsonHSbully”). Note: If you wanted a second cell for example one that celebrates “upstanding,” you could create that too using something like @JohnsonHSUpstander.
[How to Start a cell video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf0N3TWWnmg]
Make sure the settings for your cell (your group) are correct. You choose these settings when you start your cell, but you can always change them later by going to the page for your cell and clicking the “Settings” button.
Because it is an anonymous tip line, membership needs to be set to Open - Anyone can join. The Chat mode also needs to remain private to only staff, counselors, and teachers, so make sure the Chat mode is set to Curated Chat.
Step #3: Let students know that they can report bullying by texting the cell name to 23559. So if the tip line cell is called @JohnsonHSbully, they would text @JohnsonHSbully to 23559.
When they text to join the cell, they will receive a request to pick a username. Students can either put their real name or if they want to remain anonymous, they can enter a pseudonym or generic username. If a student already has a Celly account, they can change their name at anytime by texting changename (all one word) to 23559.
Once they have texted to join the cell, they can text their bullying report just by sending messages to 23559. E.g., they might text “student X was harassing me earlier today” to 23559. That message will go to the cell admins and only they will see it if the cell is in Curated Chat mode. Admins can choose to reply to the student directly via Celly if needed.
Other ways to send messages
For students who have limited text plans, or who do not have a cell phone, they can still report bullying by signing up on the Celly website and sending messages to the cell from the website. Email addresses and phone numbers are never shared over Celly, so students can remain anonymous if they so choose.
iPhone and Android apps are also available for students with those phones: http://cel.ly/app
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.