Tag Archives: digital footprint

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.

 

 

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TAGGED – A cautionary tale about cyberbullying and sexting from acma

Make sure you watch this brilliant piece of film-making here from the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Cybersmart program, and then champion for it to be shown to students in your schools. I’m sure this 18 minute film will relay the important message of protecting yourself and others online, far more effectively than any lecture from a teacher. From the acma site:

Tagged is supported by lesson plans and compelling character reflection interviews. It explores themes of personal and peer safety and responsibility that are crucial to maintaining positive online behaviours and digital reputation into adulthood.

Thanks go to acma for working so hard to ensure quality resources are available for teachers not only in Australia, but worldwide. These issues cross all continents, and a resource like this can be used in classrooms everywhere.

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Revisiting the Digital Footprint message

Today, I delivered a presentation to our Year 11 students about how they conduct themselves in online spaces, to ensure their safety and to cultivate a positive digital footprint. I delivered a similar presentation to this same cohort in May last year, and I thought I might be flogging a dead horse. I was wrong.

They listened intently, asked serious and thoughtful questions, and even provided examples themselves of people who had had reputations damaged due to poor understanding of the magnification of information shared in social networks today. I thought I’d fall short with information and have to fill time, but I was struggling to get through what I wanted to cover.

One of the things I wanted to cover was Facebook’s places feature. My guess would be that the majority of them weren’t using it, and had no idea that their friends could check them into locations unless they disabled the feature in their privacy settings. I used the following lifehacker video to demonstrate what they needed to do in Facebook to opt out of the feature. It helped me too. I lead a very transparent life, but I don’t want to use the places feature and I don’t want to be checked into places by friends in my network. It’s not a straightforward process. You have to find the customise button and find the page where the settings need changing. The lifehacker video explained it very clearly and I followed those instructions to meet my requirements. The students watched it intently, and it’s my guess a number of them will be looking at their privacy settings tonight.

It was nice to receive words of thanks and a round of applause at the end of the session. It’s made it very clear to me that these messages need repeating and reinforcement in our teaching practices.

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What’s a Digital Footprint and why would you want one? Presentation for Leading a Digital School conference.

I delivered ‘What is a Digital Footprint and why would you want one?’ at the Leading a Digital School Conference here in Melbourne last week. You’ll have to follow the link to my wikispaces page to view it as the code from Sliderocket is not supported in WordPress. It was very well received, even though I’d been frantically putting the slides together the night before! I’ve written this as a paper for Synergy, the online journal published by the School Library Association of Victoria. It will be published sometime in October. You’ll have a little trouble following a couple of the slides without the benefit of listening to what I was talking about, but hopefully you’ll get a sense of what I think is an important message that our teachers need to hear. 

What was encouraging about this conference was the feeling I had that more people are open to the idea of infusing new ideas into their classroom practice. Martin Levins has done a good job of dissecting keynote speakers’ presentations so I’d encourage you to visit his blog and take a read. The conference ning has a presentation resources tab where you can find some of what went on. Garry Putland’s slides are worth a look, and even though Michael Hough’s slides were text heavy, a lot of what he had to say was very pertinent. Teacher Librarians should rejoice; he spoke glowingly of the worth of our skill set in our schools today.

Thanks to the conference organisers for putting on a great conference. Another great part of the conference was getting to meet Leanne Windsor, a Librarian who has returned to Australia from Japan recently, and who I follow on Twitter. We had a fun time laughing our way through the conference!

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What’s in a name?

The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.

Marshall McLuhan

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, recently made a some very interesting comments while being interviewed by Holman W Jenkins from the Wall Street Journal;

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.

Danah Boyd’s response to this is equally interesting, if not moreso;

This is ludicrous on many accounts. First, it completely contradicts historical legal trajectories where name changes have become increasingly more difficult. Second, it fails to account for the tensions between positive and negative reputation. Third, it would be so exceedingly ineffective as to be just outright absurd.

Surprisingly, I spend quite a bit of time discussing things like this with prospective parents at my school. Our school registrar tours with them and visits me often. I talk about the vision of our new library under construction, the work we are doing at Year 9 using Ning as a virtual learning community and our efforts with Cybersafety. Parents are really interested in this last point, and I see many nodding heads when I discuss the need for our students to establish a positive digital footprint for themselves. Plenty of them realise their kids use sites like Facebook as their communication platform, but they do want them to do so with some understanding of how they conduct themselves responsibly to protect their own reputation, and the reputation of others.

Jonathan Zittrain discusses a similar idea to that raised by Eric Schmidt, but he calls it ‘Reputation Bankruptcy’. It’s the idea that you will be able to wipe your digital identity slate clean and start over. Who knows, one day it just might be possible, but what if you have a good deal of positive web content that you don’t want erased? Will we be able to be selective about what stays and what goes?

Danah makes another very good point in her post responding to Eric Schmidt’s comments;

All it takes is for someone who’s motivated to make a link between the two and any attempt to walk away from your past vanishes in an instant. Search definitely makes a mess out of people’s name-based reputation but a name change doesn’t fix it if someone’s intent on connecting the two.

So, what’s in a name?  Will we need to grapple with our digital identities, identities that can be forged by our friends (or enemies!) as much as they are forged by our own hand? Once again, we need to take this on board as educators. We need to help our students understand that they can create the long tail of good searchable content that will make their name a blessing, not a burden.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

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Nurturing their Digital Footprint – lessons for Year 12

As part of our continued push to acknowledge the importance of Cybersafety instruction at my school, today I delivered a presentation to our Yr 12 students about how they can nurture their digital profile. Just a month or so ago, we delivered presentations to our Yr 10 and 11 students about much the same thing, but on this occasion, we created an entirely new presentation. There was a need to. Facebook privacy settings had changed, and this group are on the verge of adulthood. Very soon they will be moving into tertiary education or the paid workforce.

Quite a bit of material used in the presentation came from Jefferey Rosen’s excellent article in the New York Times, ‘The Web Means the End of Forgetting‘. I’d highly recommend that you take up the free subscription offer from the New York Times to gain access to this fine piece. It certainly helped to pull together a presentation that I think had meaning for the students present. In fact, I received an email 15 minutes after the presentation had ended from one of the students. Here’s what she had to say;

Hi Mrs Luca J
Just wanted to say I thought your lecture this afternoon was fantastic.
Walking out of the lecture theatre,  everyone was talking about their (sic) going straight home to change their facebook settings!
So yes, thanks for an interesting lecture,

It’s not often you get positive feedback like this. It certainly made me feel like the effort required to put the presentation together was worth it. If you’d like to view it, go to the wikispaces site I maintain.

Helping our students to understand the importance of a positive digital profile is ongoing work for us. I firmly believe that probably the best way to enable our students to appreciate its importance is to encourage them to publish their work online, so that they can be building the profile that will be of most benefit to them in the long run. As Seth Godin said;

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

I have my students working with new technologies and encourage them to publish the good stuff. The hard thing is convincing others that this is something we should be working towards in our schools. They deserve to know how they can make the best of the Web and themselves in the process.

(*Frustratingly, once again, the Sliderocket presentation will not embed into this post.)

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Rives responds – real life digital literacy

Recently, I posted about my daughter Cassidy’s emoticon story that she completed for an English project. It was inspired by the poet Rives, who delivered ‘A Story of Mixed Emoticons‘ at TED 2008. While I was looking at Rives’ blog, I noticed that he provided an email address where you could contact him. So contact him I did.

While I was waiting for a flight to LAX, I received an email from Rives. He was directing me to his latest post, where he had featured Cassidy’s own emoticon story. Here’s what was in his post (Cassidy’s video was embedded at the top of the post);

Hi Rives, I’m a teacher from Melbourne, Australia. We have being doing a thematic study of Romance and Relationships and have used your ‘Story of mixed emoticons’ in our classes to help with this. The students had to produce a creative task using technology in response to the theme. My daughter attends the school and her response was inspired by your mixed emoticons story. Just thought you might like to know that you are inspiring people all over the world, –J


[J is referring to the emoticon piece that I performed at TED 2008. Incidentally, my piece always ends with a hot & sexy music cue ("Laid" by the band James) which TED didn't have the rights to so...they left it out. The result is much flatter than I like and it also seems to make the deliberately ambiguous ending even more ambiguous: does the emoticon couple get together? I say they do; J's daughter, in her charming, flattering version, seems to take the other side of the dollar. Which in Australia is a coin.]

How cool is this! Please visit Rives’ blog to see for yourself.

What’s even cooler is the fact that Cass is able to see for herself the power of a connected Web. She’s watching the stats grow on her YouTube video and knows that it’s because Rives’ post is driving traffic there. Her simple, (charming!) video project has an audience and is finding its way to far more people than it would if she had kept it on her computer hard-drive and shared it with just her teacher. Cass got a ‘B’ for this project. Do you think that really matters in the scheme of things? Look at the learning that has taken place outside of the structures of school. She knows what can happen if you decide to take the plunge and share your work with the world. She knows that you can reach out and connect to the people who influence you, and sometimes they just might sit up and take notice. She knows that her positive digital footprint is growing as a result of this. She has learned skills that are important in the world we live in today.

At ISTE2010, having students establish a positive digital footprint was a theme I heard over and over again in sessions I attended. I also heard many teachers talking of school structures that prevented them from posting student content publicly and using student’s names on the Web. Hopefully, a story like this will help teachers work with their administrations to convince them that we need to assist and support our students to share their good work in public spaces.We need to help them grow their digital footprint in a positive way.

Cass is lucky. She has a mother who understands the Web and can support her with her learning. Many of the students we teach have parents who don’t understand the workings of the Web. It’s imperative that we as teachers avail ourselves of knowledge and help our students develop digital literacy understanding, in all its forms.

Thanks Rives, for taking the time to acknowledge my daughter’s work. : )

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A story about longing, loving, and coming to a realisation

I am one very proud mother tonight. This is the work of my beautiful daughter; it’s her multimodal creative response for an English assignment based around the theme of ‘Romance and Relationships’. It’s all her own work, inspired by the poet Rives and his ‘Story of mixed emoticons‘ that we used as stimulus material in our English classes.

My response when I saw it was, “That’s going straight to YouTube”. It’s a pretty impressive addition to her digital footprint in my view. She’s definitely a product of her upbringing, of this I have no doubt!!

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Facebook and privacy – is your school helping students to understand privacy settings?

Facebook is the primary social network most of our students are accessing to manage their social lives. Are they going to stop using it anytime soon? No, they’re not. They’re not going to stop because it’s their communication platform- it’s where their friends are and it’s how they plan their lives.  And that’s why we have to understand how it works and ensure that we help them to understand how they use it safely. We need to be discussing Facebook’s privacy settings and how students can set them to a level that provides them with profiles they are comfortable with.

We need to put this in perspective. People of my generation were operating in social networks too. It’s just that our social networks were dependent on a single corded phone line placed in a usually busy part of the household. Our parents spent their lives bemoaning the fact that the phone line was under siege from their teenage children. Think about it; if a network like Facebook were available when you were young, would you have been there? I know I would.

Facebook have made some significant changes to their privacy settings in recent months. Matt McKeon has created ‘an evolution of Facebook’ and has used some very interesting visuals to denote these changes over time. I used them with Yr 11 students last week and they certainly took notice.

It’s a powerful representation of their default settings and the changes that have been made over time. Show these to your students and I’m pretty sure you’ll see them heading home to make some changes; changes they probably didn’t even know were necessary.

We have been taking our students through the account settings in Facebook, alerting them to changes that have been applied to their accounts. Some students know what’s happening and have ensured their settings are set to ‘only friends’, but many have no idea. Most don’t bother to check the ‘Applications and Websites’ settings, and don’t realise that Facebook has arranged to allow a user’s information to be accessible to nominated websites if a Facebook member accesses them. According to Facebook, it allows for a more integrated web experience and saves you time. According to me, it’s non-consensual use of my personal information. Facebook are overstepping the mark, and people are starting to sit up, take notice, and speak out.

The New York Times have been keeping up with what is happening and have produced a very good graphic showing the default settings and what needs to be done to manage your privacy;

Danah Boyd has written a ‘rant’ about Facebook’s lack of transparency. In it, she makes some observations that I’ve noted are common to students here in Australia too. Most are unaware of the fact that their information is accesible to friends of friends. What follows is a lengthy grab from Danah’s post, but she makes such good points they are well worth sharing (and of course, I’d encourage you to visit her blog to read the post in its entirity);

Over and over again, I find that people’s mental model of who can see what doesn’t match up with reality. People think “everyone” includes everyone who searches for them on Facebook. They never imagine that “everyone” includes every third party sucking up data for goddess only knows what purpose. They think that if they lock down everything in the settings that they see, that they’re completely locked down. They don’t get that their friends lists, interests, likes, primary photo, affiliations, and other content is publicly accessible.

If Facebook wanted radical transparency, they could communicate to users every single person and entity who can see their content. They could notify then when the content is accessed by a partner. They could show them who all is included in “friends-of-friends” (or at least a number of people). They hide behind lists because people’s abstractions allow them to share more. When people think “friends-of-friends” they don’t think about all of the types of people that their friends might link to; they think of the people that their friends would bring to a dinner party if they were to host it. When they think of everyone, they think of individual people who might have an interest in them, not 3rd party services who want to monetize or redistribute their data. Users have no sense of how their data is being used and Facebook is not radically transparent about what that data is used for. Quite the opposite. Convolution works. It keeps the press out.

The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being duped, tricked, coerced, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely unfair. It gives users the illusion of choice and hides the details away from them “for their own good.”

What really worries me, is that there are not enough people in our schools today who are confident enough with new technologies to understand how to help our students work these things out. This is part of the new digital divide that is starting to rear its ugly head. I have the feeling we will have students who are given an understanding of the benefits of creating positive digital profiles and they will do just that. They will understand that you don’t upload that unflattering photo or you avoid being photographed in compromising situations. You post the great things you are doing and your social resume helps you to get that job you’re looking for. You won’t be the kid on the other side of the digital divide who uploads all those photos from that party that got out of control. That same kid on the other side never created any great digital content because their teachers didn’t understand new technologies and never set any tasks that allowed them to show people what they were truly capable of. Their social resume is the one that recruiters look at, resulting in them sending their work resume (the one they’ve written) to the bottom of the pile.

Schools do have a part to play in informing our students about managing their lives in social networks. What this requires is teachers who are up to date with what is happening and with the nous to direct them to the information they need. It worries me that the only professional development our teachers are given to support them with understandings like these, come from blog posts written by other teachers who are doing it late into the night with dark bags under their eyes!

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Using Social Media to effect change

 I presented  today at a conference for students that was held at my school. My presentation was ‘Using Social Media to effect change’. I’ve been trying to embed it here but the code is not cooperating. I used SlideRocket to create the presentation and was once again impressed with this tool. Being able to search within the application for creative commons pictures from flickr made it easy to find the pictures I needed to create impact. (at least I hope I achieved that anyway)  The theme for the gathering was ‘Global issues and women’ and students from Yr 11 were in attendance from my school and other schools in our vicinity.

I think it went well. I know the teachers accompanying the students were impressed. Probably the most powerful part of the session was being able to demonstrate the Twitter network. I presented twice and on both occasions put out a Tweet asking people to say hi and tell us where they were from. We received over 20 replies on each occasion and the students were able to see the array of locations where the tweets were coming from. They were really amazed that people in Beijing, Montana, Ho Chi Minh city, Bangkok, Maine, Nottingham, Sydney, New York, etc etc were replying to them. It certainly demonstrated what it means to be globally connected.

The other part that had impact related to building your digital footprint. Many of them had not considered the possibilities of being googled by employers with their only web presence being a myspace or facebook page. I think they left the day considering what it is they need to do to create a positive digital profile for themselves.

During the day they were presented with information about various causes they could get involved with and do something to support. I’m hopeful that some of them will join Working together 2 make a difference and chart their progress there. In doing so they’ll be helping to generate that positive digital profile!

(I’ll persevere with trying to get it embedded -think I need to try to post it with vodpod but I’ll have to reinstall the button again. So annoying to have your computer reimaged!) 

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