Managing your digital footprint with Year 8

Last Thursday I ran a session with our Yr 8 cohort to cover some aspects of what is required to be a mindful digital citizen and take responsibility for managing your digital footprint. We started with a video I featured on School’s out Friday a week or so ago.

It’s an attention grabber, that’s for sure. I like to use video to start a session; it pulls their attention in and helps get the students focused. A hand was raised immediately following with a student asking was all of this information obtainable through Facebook. I’ve found that students tend to think about what they are sharing in spaces like Facebook, but they aren’t so conscious of the dangers of sharing details across sites that are not http secure. I asked how many of them know what https means and if they are conscious of this when they are purchasing items online. Three hands were raised, and two of those belonged to teachers in the room!! If you’re not sure what it is, here’s part of the description from the Wikipedia page about it.

In its popular deployment on the internet, HTTPS provides authentication of the web site and associated web server that one is communicating with, which protects against Man-in-the-middle attacks. Additionally, it provides bidirectional encryption of communications between a client and server, which protects against eavesdropping and tampering with and/or forging the contents of the communication.[1] In practice, this provides a reasonable guarantee that one is communicating with precisely the web site that one intended to communicate with (as opposed to an impostor), as well as ensuring that the contents of communications between the user and site cannot be read or forged by any third party.

This was news to the vast majority of students in the room and had many of them very concerned about their use of sites where they purchase clothes and shoes. I shared with them the story of my daughter requesting a pair of shoes from a site, and me saying ‘no way’ because it was a http site and not https. Many of them were on their way home that evening ready to check the sites they’ve been using. Once again, the experience had me wondering just what proportion of our populations have any idea about things like this, and if they don’t, who is going to be helping them to understand it. We need to be covering information like this, just as much as we do informing our students about the dangers of oversharing pictures and personal information.

I had the students working in groups using old fashioned poster paper and textas to write their definition of, ‘What is a digital footprint’ and tips they would give to others to manage it effectively. They shared what they’d written in a discussion and I was pleasantly pleased to hear them articulate some of the messages we have been reinforcing with our use of student blogs throughout the school. We used the following CommonSenseMedia video to help cement what they’d been sharing. It was perfect for a Year 8 audience.

Following this, we looked at the following video from Thinkuknow UK. It’s a bit more heavy handed in its message, but these are important lessons for kids who are heading towards fifteen. I heard many students saying ‘this is creepy’ but they were taking this message in and I’m sure it had them thinking.

At the end of the session I reinforced with them they we were not discouraging their use of social media. It’s a reality of the world we live in and if our students use it mindfully it can be a very positive element in their lives. To finish the session, I took them through Google Alerts and encouraged them to set one up for their name so that they could try to monitor new content that was appearing in the Google Search engine under their name. Of course, it’s not so effective for students with relatively common names, but it’s a handy thing to know about and they can use it to track research topics for projects they are doing as well.

Sessions like this are important for the kids we teach. Thank goodness we have some really fabulous organisations around the world making useful videos to help us deliver the message.

 

 

19 Comments

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19 responses to “Managing your digital footprint with Year 8

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  2. Brilliant Jenny! Such a great way to talk to kids about such an important topic.

  3. Great lesson Jenny, Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Jodie

    Love your work Jenny! An instructive and engaging lesson. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Shane Pilkie

    This sounds like a great lesson for your students. One resource that I have found really useful when talking with students about their digital footprint and online sharing is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o8auwnJtqE&list=PLC4EA29B5C1A3FBE5&index=1&feature=plpp_video

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  7. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for a great post! After seeing Susan McLean present recently, I did a few posts on my blog with internet safety tips for parents, students and teachers. I have added one of the videos you used to my post about tips for students http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/10/12/10-internet-safety-tips-for-students/

    I’ve used the video that Shane mentioned with my younger students – it’s really powerful!

    I like to do a lot of discussion and authentic teaching on cyber safety issues with my students, however, I always feel a bit torn with the issue of 13+ sites. On one hand, I’m reminding them they shouldn’t sign up to sites like Facebook and Instagram etc as they’re only 9 and 10 years old. On the other hand, I know some students are on these sites and I feel like if they’re going to be on, I should educate them. There is also an interesting line of thought around reporting students who are on 13+ sites such as Facebook which Scott Duncan blogged about recently http://mrduncan.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/10/10/facebook-are-you-old-enough/

    This was a really interesting point you made and something I think about regularly “just what proportion of our populations have any idea about things like this, and if they don’t, who is going to be helping them to understand it.” It really worries me that there are so many teachers, parents and students who don’t know what they’re doing online!

    Thanks again,
    Kathleen

    • jennylu

      I think you’re being very responsible to address 13+ sites with younger students. We have to face what the realities are- many students under 13 are operating in social networks and often without the maturity to handle the types of exchanges that can happen there. They need knowledgeable adults in their lives who can help them to navigate these spaces with due care. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Kathleen. :)

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