Last Friday I was invited by Wetpaint to stop by their Seattle office for a “show and tell” session as well as discuss how the educational site was running and the needs of educators who use Wetpaint.
The Show and Tell was fun as each department showed off what they were working on. We got a tour of the new home page that launched that day by the development team. The publishing team invited me up to talk about the use of Wetpaint in education. The Wetpaint team was very enthusiastic to hear how their product is being used in education. They asked questions about how educators use the site and how it could be improved for educational use. It was a great hour that I got to sit and watch as the wetpaint team came together in a relaxed “show and tell” atmosphere to share what they had been working on and where they were headed.
I also was able to meet the CEO Ben Elowitz who thanked me numerous times for my work in supporting educators on Wetpaint.
The most meaningful part of my visit came with a 30 minute sit down session with key people at Wetpaint discussing the COPPA issue.
COPPA has been a pain in Wetpaint’s side since it was passed in 1998. We disucssed COPPA and ways that we might be able to allow students under the age of 13 to sign up for accounts. What is really frustrating to me as an International educators, is that the COPPA law does not apply to my school in Thailand yet our students can not take advantage of this great learning platform due to a US Federal Law. Because Wetpaint is located in the US (Seattle) they must comply with the law. It’s not Wetpaint’s fault, it is just the way it is in this digital age. It will be interesting to see if over time countries that have more relaxed rules get more technology start-ups.
As I sat discussing the issue with Wetpaint employees it was easy to see that it is not Wetpaint the company that is making things difficult but rather lawyers who get paid to keep Wetpaint safe, and the law itself. It was a great brainstorm session and I walked away with a deeper understanding of where Wetpaint is in trying to sove the issue, frustrated by the law, yet optomistic that we’ll be able to find a solution to the issue.
Wetpaint has done a great job supporting education over the years first with allowing ad-free wikis, then giving educators 250 uploaded files. They are also supporting the wiki workshop I’m running this Sunday at NECC by flying out support help for me all on their own dime. You have to love a company that is willing to not only give up revenue on their product but support education to the point of flying somone across the country for a one day training of 28 teachers.
The other great news is they decided to keep my on as the educational ambassador for another year. A great honor in helping to support some 2500+ educators who belong to the educational wiki. If you use Wetpaint it’s a helpful community to belong to. 2500 educators supporting each other with issues, ideas, and sites.
Thank you Wetpaint for your dedication and support to education and children everywhere!