Tag Archives: cybersafety

30 minutes with the year 10s – what do you teach them?

At the end of the year the library staff do a series of very short sessions with the year 10s to support their transition into year 11. Our team showcases databases and other online resources, talks about learning styles, and the such. My session last year centred on Google Search, with the students doing A Google a Day.  Since last year Google have enhanced this program with a very catchy game which is sure to engage students. This year I thought I’d expand my focus area to include aspects of digital citizenship.

This is how I intend to proceed. I’m starting with a question which I think cuts to the core of learning and teaching in our age:

In the age of Google, what are the most important skills we need to develop?

There’s no doubt that, in order to manage and make sense of information on the internet, we need to be smart online. Students’ online and offline lives merge into one; they are always connected, and so they  need to be netsmart just as they should be ‘life smart’.  There’s enough material here for a year’s program, and while creating libguide resources for Digital Citizenship, I’ve been wondering how I can convince the school of the value of this.
Since I only have one short session with the students, I’m going to briefly talk about 2 aspects of being netsmart –

1. Our Privacy online (We need to be smart and discerning)

2. Critical consumption (or what Howard Rheingold calls ‘crap detection’)

So, first our privacy online. I’ll start by showing the students this video that Jenny Luca has shared in her blog post.

Hopefully the video will engage the students and spark some thinking about how much can be gleaned online about their personal information. Of course there’s so much sensationalised and biased information in the media demonising young people’s online lives but I’m not sure if that doesn’t just make them switch off. I’m hoping that the humorous approach will engage their attention so that the final message will sink in.

Following that I intend to challenge the students to google themselves and each other, making them think about what other people would find out about them if they were googled. I wonder how many would start to be worried about what their digital footprint might look like. Actually, I’m not sure they would find much about themselves online, and this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss the positive aspects of their digital footprint, and how they could create one which would impress a future employer or at least create a transparent, positive identity they would be proud to present to the world. I think the obvious question also needs to be asked: why do they need a digital footprint in the first place?

I’m also keen to discuss, as Jenny did, the difference between http and the secure network communication using https. Jenny said she was surprised that many students didn’t realise the difference and were impressed with the information.

Finally, I’ll be showing the students the Facebook tab in the Digital Citizenship Libguide, and we’ll discuss how privacy works on Facebook, and talk about advanced privacy controls.

Then we’ll move on to the very important aspect of being netsmart which includes critical consumption (crap detection). We’ll read through a summary of Web hoaxes and misinformationand the students will form small groups to ‘evaluate the websites’ in the list on the Libguide to decide which are not reputable, and match them with a category from web evaluation box. They won’t have time to work through the Internet Detective tutorial but I included it because it’s such a useful and specific lesson on the identification of disreputable websites.

There are so many more areas to cover but for now I will settle on the collection of resources in the tabs within the Digital Citizenship guide: cybersafety, digital values, digital footprint, Facebook, copyright, being net smart, Creative Commons, web evaluation, digital literacies and our networked world. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to work with students within these areas next year.

Image source: http://www.veletsianos.com/

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Filed under Digital citizenship

Control your identity online

This has been cross-posted from I get to say what’s culture.

Taken from Jenny Luca’s presentation

Kids these days are connected and mobile. Wherever they are, they have access to information and can communicate with their friends online.  Although I do believe that the media sensationalizes and demonizes social media, becoming informed about how to stay safe and behave responsibly online is crucial – for teachers and parents. Even for those of us on Facebook, it may come as a bit of a shock to realise how much we are unaware of in terms of privacy settings.

Do you know how much of what you or your kids post online is visible to others?

The Generation Yes Blog alerted me to the new A Parents’ Guide to Facebook by Connect Safely.  You can download the whole document as a pdf file here or take a look at an overview of recommended settings for young people here.

I like the recommended settings for young people as an alert to what Facebook users should be thinking about. Actually, I doubt whether most young people would be taking the time to fine-tune their settings, and Facebook doesn’t seem to be making it easy or intuitive to do so. That’s where kids need education. We all do, teachers and parents, so that we can recommend to our young ones what they should be taking control over.

I’ve included screen grabs of some of the information on the Recommended Privacy Settings for Teens here –

Jenny Luca has created some top quality slideshow presentations which I highly recommend. Take a look at them on her wiki.

You can also find good information on ACMA cybersafety website.

Finally, I’m sharing my ‘cybersafety’ Diigo links here.

I do think we need to be informed as teachers and parents because the issue of cybersafety and digital citizenship is not only relevant but crucial to our students’ lives.  Kids know how to work out technology but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be informed about consequences.

What do you think?

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Filed under Digital citizenship, network literacy, technology

Dangerous new (cyber)world

I firmly believe that we should educate students for their world.

There’s no doubt that they will function in an online and networked world, even more than they are doing now.

Yesterday our staff listened to Susan McLean’s talk about the dangers of the cyberworld. I became increasingly uncomfortable as the horror stories unfolded at the expense of a more balanced view, or even in terms of focusing on how we could manage cybersafety education.

I want to share my letter to the principal in the hope of opening up a conversation which will fill in the gaps to create a balanced picture of what we should be doing to educate our students as citizens of their future world.

To balance out last night’s presentation on cyberbullying, I would like to suggest that you look at ACMA which provides excellent links to resources and free PD.

 For example, here is the page for teens with practical help

 Here is the school page

There is free professional development

You can browse the site – it is set out clearly, and very helpful.

 I hope that our staff have been discerning in understanding that Susan McLean has presented a very extreme picture, describing the worst case scenarios (many of them), which should be acknowledged for what they are – worst case scenarios. It was difficult not to be affected by her stories; I know I was starting to panic and my instinct to run and save myself kicked in.

 What was unmistakable – Susan only mentioned that online involvement could be positive at the beginning and end of the presentation – she didn’t give examples. Her language was emotionally charged, and her numerous horror stories were dramatic.

It would be a shame if staff who were already resistant to technology and strangers to online possibilities in education, were to run even further away from technology – especially as we are a laptop school. We have to remember that we are educating students for their technology-rich world, not our world or the world of our own schooling.

 Just yesterday I was moderating comments in my fiction blog – no comments will be published until I approve them. I’m encouraging comments to inspire discussion around books and reading, and I noticed a student had commented on a student review of the new Harry Potter movie. The comment was fine, but the last sentence inappropriately put down a boy who had received a scholarship. I found the boy, had a little chat with him about what was inappropriate in the comment (he understood), and asked him to resubmit the comment without the negative part. This is part of students’ ongoing education – who else will teach them how to behave online if we don’t?

 We need, more than ever, to understand the power of these technologies, and educate our students to use them responsibly. The only way we will understand these from the inside is if we play with them ourselves. I would be more than happy to show you my Facebook and Twitter involvement – they are an important part of my professional development and educational support.

 What is also imperative, is that we don’t mix up the problematic online activities of our students in their leisure time with the technology that can be used to support teaching and learning, eg. Blogs, nings, etc.

 When you have time, please have a look at the 7M ning – we are thrilled to have Allan Baillie, author of our literature study, ‘Little Brother’, as part of our ning, ready to join the students in discussion. What better way to learn about the book than have the author answer questions – this is authentic learning. The boys and Maria and I are excited that Allan has agreed to join us, and we spent yesterday’s lesson reading his life story on his website in preparation for our interaction with him.

 I hope you accept my email in the spirit it has been written. I believe that we need to educate our students for their world. We should not bury our heads in the sand, but accept the challenge, moving past our own discomfort with technology, and taking up our responsibility to educate responsible citizens.

Thanks to Lisa Dumicich for the link to ACMA on Twitter.

I would be extremely  interested in hearing what you think about this issue of cybersafety and the use of Web 2.0 technologies in education. Please enter into the conversation.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, internet, network literacy, networking, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

What’s it worth? A teacher’s beliefs.

Yesterday I unexpectedly leaped into a heated argument with a very close friend who had come to visit from interstate. It was one of those fires that flare up suddenly from a small spark, blazing fiercely long enough for onlookers to look alarmed and consider calling for help, and then burn down gradually, leaving those involved in a slightly shaky state, surveying the damage.

The offending spark was a question about why my friend’s daughter didn’t have Facebook, and if she did I’d be able to view her photos from the Ball she was attending that night. Remember, these friends live interstate.

Now, you can imagine, with a blazing argument, most of what goes on is reactive, and each person becomes locked in to a mainly defensive position, taking each comment personally and wanting to come back strongly enough to defend their position. There isn’t any room for thought or even fair appraisal of what the opponent has said. Luckily, the latter occurred as the fire burned down; concession and reconciliation was possible in the smouldering stage.

I can only speak for myself in this argument, and I will.

I reacted to my friend’s initial painting of Facebook and MySpace as bad places (which, I think, he must have said unconsciously, because he later denied it), places where, at best, young people wasted their time with inane conversations, and, at worst, young people exposed themselves graphically involved in the worst behaviour.

If I hadn’t been so defensive, I would have said that I’d been there not so long ago. I was initially against my older son interacting online, either msn or Facebook/MySpace. I gave many reasons, but one I pushed the strongest was that online interaction was not real, it was virtual. It was unnatural, it took away from the time spent with people face to face, it was potentially dangerous because it increased solitary time with virtual friends, etc. Why didn’t he use the phone if he wanted to talk to someone? How could he be ‘friends’ with all those people? That wasn’t friendship.

Funnily enough, these were some of the points my friend expressed, in between dodging my line of fire. I wonder (always wonder) when I’ll learn that the conversation ends when the other person feels attacked.

What has happened from the time I held my friend’s convictions and now? Several things. Instead of making conclusions about social networking and online environments from the outside, based on what I’d read, on media reports (which are mainly negative and engender fear in parents and teachers), I decided to play around with these things myself. What happened? I connected with people I hadn’t talked to for years (even decades), I saw photos of where they lived, saw status updates of what they were up to – no, not just what they had for breakfast –  they were about to become parents, or they were travelling overseas, etc. No, I didn’t have deep relationships with all of these people, but I did appreciate suddenly having a general view of what my ‘friends’ were up to, and many of these are scattered all around the world.

I also saw a different side to young people, definitely different to the picture that is often painted in the media, or even in conversations held by people who have little to do with adolescents or university-age students. I saw these people supporting each other with positive comments, engaging in humorous and often witty dialogue, planning events and meetings, putting out interesting links to things they had read or music they listened to, venturing to express opinions they might not in real life.

One of my main points in the aftermath of the argument was that social networking supports real-life interaction. The young people I observe are less isolated than I used to be at their age, not only because they can chat to a group of friends at home in between homework, but because they use these connections to meet up and do something together. They inititate interest groups, they gather friends for events, they learn to function as social beings – important skills for life and work. They do this because these spaces belong to them. They’re not forced to create a group and contribute to discussion; they choose to because of personal interest.

Which brings me to my next point. How much of this initiative and cooperation do we see in schools, in the classroom? Do we see discussion, do we see young  people sharing their interests and passions? Or do we see disengagement, boredom, solitary struggle in place of collaborative effort? Is there room for students to take initiative, pursue interests, work together to solve problems, get involved in real-world research and enquiry.

Are we getting the best out of our young people at school?

To finish my rave, yes! I agree with my friend that there is potential danger in online involvement. And I believe we should discuss these dangers. We should take every opportunity to educate our young people about the irreversible nature of what they put out the web. But we could also create a safe, online environment for them to use at home when they need help with homework, or when they want to share ideas for a project. A place they could become teachers as well as learners. An exciting place where they are enriched by the diverse contribution of others. Where they learn to respect each other. Where they are not afraid to ask questions.

As an educator, I’ve been pushing my boundaries, often painfully, against what I felt comfortable with. But I want to keep my eyes open, and I’m trying to re-evaluate constantly, and I know that I must do that if I’m to have any part in educating young people for their future. No, not going with all the latest fads, not embracing new things without thought, but thinking deeply, and listening to the dialogue in my own online network, asking the deep questions….

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Filed under 21st century learning, debate, Education, internet, networking, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0