Tag Archives: Facebook

Helping students understand location settings

In the last week of school I had an opportunity to discuss with students from Years 7 through to 11 the importance of thinking about their use of Social Media while they are on their holiday break. There was a consistent resounding cheer when I mentioned they were about to immerse themselves in their various social networks when they finished school for the year and were in the enviable position of determining what it was they wanted to do with their day. For many of the students I teach, that means communicating with their friends over Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Sometimes I feel a bit like a broken record reiterating the ‘think before you post’ message, important as it is. I’m always on the lookout for articles, posts or videos that can help me tell the story that needs telling. I find video a really effective way of getting a point across, but it can be hard to find new material. Having a son who trawls YouTube for a living (or so it seems!) proved fortuitous on the weekend before my sessions. He had come across a Social Media Experiment conducted by YouTuber Jack Vale. It was perfect for the message I wanted to convey about making sure your privacy settings are set to friends only and turning off location settings on apps that don’t necessarily require them. Take a look yourself.

Before watching, I did preface with the students that the people in the video were expressing surprise and some of their reactions were bleeped out. It was fascinating watching their reactions during the short few minutes. Many of their faces echoed the expressions of the people on the screen as they realised that all of this information was shared publicly and these people could be found easily because of the location data embedded in photos shared in spaces like Instagram. It was effective across all Year levels, with many of the younger students coming to me at the end of the session to get help finding where location services was located on their phones so that they could turn it off in Apps not requiring it for functionality.

Sometimes we assume our students are savvy users of technology, but my experience tells me they often need direction. Finding opportunities to share and discuss information in our often crowded curriculums is difficult, but we need to make time. Parents are often not in command of knowledge like this and can’t provide necessary guidance. My message to my students at the end of the session was that there is a need for them to be informed users of technology, not ignorant users who can make serious errors by sharing information unknowingly. This means understanding dashboard settings of programs they use on their computers and general settings of devices such as phones that are a part of their everyday lives.

It was time well spent!

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Teenagers and Social Media – new research from Pew Internet

The Pew Internet American Life Project conducts regular research into the use of technology by all sectors of the US population. Their latest research focuses on teenagers and their use of Social Media sites. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past. For the five different types of personal information that we measured in both 2006 and 2012, each is significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users in our most recent survey.

 Teen Twitter use has grown significantly: 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011.

 The typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends, while the typical teen Twitter user has 79 followers.

 Focus group discussions with teens show that they have waning enthusiasm for Facebook, disliking the increasing adult presence, people sharing excessively, and stressful “drama,” but they keep using it because participation is an important part of overall teenage socializing.

 60% of teen Facebook users keep their profiles private, and most report high levels of
confidence in their ability to manage their settings.

 Teens take other steps to shape their reputation, manage their networks, and mask information they don’t want others to know; 74% of teen social media users have deleted people from their network or friends list.

 Teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-party access to their data; just 9% say they are “very” concerned.

 On Facebook, increasing network size goes hand in hand with network variety, information sharing, and personal information management.

 In broad measures of online experience, teens are considerably more likely to report positive experiences than negative ones. For instance, 52% of online teens say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves.

The research is from the US, but I do think there are messages to take from this that are applicable to the Australian experience. My discussions with students indicate that Facebook is on the wane, with many gravitating to sites like Instagram for their social network experience. My observations in discussions with parents is that Instagram is not seen as much of a threat to their children as is Facebook. There’s more of a comfortable willingness to allow their children to participate there. I think we need to help our parents understand that sites like Instagram are social networks, not just photo sharing places. They require just as much open discussion about things like oversharing, managing privacy settings and who you add as a friend as does a site like Facebook.

There are some very encouraging signs in their key findings with quite a high percentage of teenagers actively managing privacy settings and taking steps to manage their reputation online. What does concern me is teenagers apparent low level of concern about 3rd party access to their data. The report says that insights from focus groups suggests that teenagers may not have a good sense that their data is being used by any third parties. Again, this finding echoes some of my experiences with students who seem unaware that sites may be sharing information or mining their data to discover their likes and dislikes. We do need to find room in our busy curriculums to have discussions with students about social media and what might be happening with their data. An informed citizen is in a position to make sound decisions, and surely that’s what we want for our young people in today’s world.

I’d encourage you to follow this link and take a read of the full report.

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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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Are we learning from Lady Gaga and Troy Carter?

You don’t have to like her music, you don’t have to like her fashion sense, but you do have to have some admiration for the way she conducts business.

English: Lady Gaga performing on the Fame Ball...

English: Lady Gaga performing on the Fame Ball tour in Minneapolis, MN at the Fine Line Music Café. Remastered with Photoshop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve long thought Lady Gaga is one switched on lady, and yesterday I read an article in Wired.CO.UK that proved it. Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, was the subject of an interview that described how he has made the most of social media to propel her career. Not only that, he is now in the process of creating a new social media platform called Backplane, that looks set to provide a community hub for the Little Monsters (Lady Gaga’s fans) and a means for her to bypass the record companies and sell her content directly through the platform. Here’s how his plans have been described in the Wired interview;

For several years, Carter has been plotting a digital disruption of the music business and, by extension, the whole entertainment industry. In addition to his offices in Los Angeles, which employ talent managers and communications and support staff, he has a team of nearly 20 engineers and executives in Palo Alto, working seven days a week developing something called the Backplane, a social-media platform that will allow celebrities to combine all the elements of their social-web presence.

Yes, that’s right. This platform is not just about Lady Gaga, it’s about the entertainment business in general, and plans are afoot to pull other celebrities and even sporting clubs in. Here’s more detail from the interview explaining their grand plans;

The Backplane aims to gather content and interaction into one hub, which could completely alter the economics of Hollywood: revenue that once flowed to corporations will flow to artists. “Up until this point, we’ve been data dumb,” Carter says. “If a kid goes and buys a CD at Best Buy, we have no idea who the person is, how many times they listen to it, or anything like that. But we’re building to the point where one day we’re going to have access to all of the data. There will be a time where we’ll be able to release music through the Backplane, where we’ll be able to release music videos through there, we’re going to be able to sell all our tickets through there. Over a period of time, we’ll be able to build that audience so they’ll know exactly where to come.”

As it stands now, many celebrities use a variety of tools to communicate via social media. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube are all employed, but they are all separate entities. Backplane has stated their intention on their site;

The Backplane team is creating a new type of social corridor. We believe that audiences seek new and more meaningful ways to connect and engage with each other. Backplane fills a gap in the current social spectrum by empowering sharing and conversation that is effortless but not automatic.

Smart, huh? And look what they’re doing to enable discussion with fans across language barriers;

They needed a chat function. That was already in the works; the Backplane was using Google’s translation software so people from all over the world could chat in one language.

There is much to learn from Troy Carter and his vision. This kind of entrepreneurial thinking needs to emanate from somewhere. Troy grew up in a rough neighbourhood in West Philadelphia and got some breaks that found him working with Will Smith. His willingness to do pretty much anything that was required led to other job opportunities. He even went bankrupt at one stage, but eventually found himself introduced to Lady Gaga. Me, I’d like to know more about his schooling. Was he introduced to creative thinking in the classrooms he occupied? Was he inspired by someone in his youth who saw something in him and encouraged this kind of willingness to take risks and think outside the square?

What are the implications of this new approach to shaping and growing a career for education? Plenty, in my book. We need to be exploring this new business model in our classrooms and make sure our students have a keen understanding of the benefits of utilising social media to create your brand and proactively develop employment opportunities. Schools themselves can learn plenty from this. How many are utilising the tools of social media to communicate with their communities and grow their brand in a positive, proactive fashion?

Take note too of the job industry driving this change. If you take a look at the jobs board on the Backplane site, you’ll see that coders are in hot demand. If we’re going to see the Web become the vehicle for dissemination of not only ideas, but content, then we’re going to need a skilled workforce to meet the demand that is sure to ensue. The Khan Academy are about to release an education portal that teaches Computer Science fundamentals through interactive drawing. But let’s not rely on the self motivated to fill the positions that will arise. Let’s open up kids’ eyes by teaching the elements of coding in our schools and educating them about the career prospects that await them if they choose to master it.

Another lesson here also for the book industry. Publishers, are you taking note? Because I bet authors are. We’ve already seen J.K Rowling begin to control her ownership and distribution of content with Pottermore. I’m guessing there are quite a few high profile authors, and low profile ones too, who would be interested in Backplane and the possibilities there for controlling their content and profit margins.

Changing times call for changing approaches across many sectors. Lady Gaga and the team behind her are people to watch. You can learn more about Troy Carter’s background and his approach to the music business by watching this Keynote interview from the Music Matters conference in June 2012.

He speaks my language.

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Is it just me?

Yeah, why would they?

When a group like Invisible Children launch an online campaign that ignites teenagers to think of a cause outside of their Facebook stream, they face criticism “…for not spending enough directly on the people it intends to help and for oversimplifying the 26-year-old conflict involving the LRA and its leader, Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.” Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2109711,00.html#ixzz1rddVuoy9

The narrator of their video, Jason Russell, suffered a psychotic episode, with this explanation offered from his wife, Danica Russell.

“Doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks. Even for us, it’s hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention — both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days,” Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2109711,00.html#ixzz1rde5gjQa

Meanwhile, Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, a marketer who learned to code at night, has had this said about him on a TNW post.

Instagram‘s CEO, Kevin Systrom, will go down in history as one of the greatest Silicon Valley success stories of our generation.

Is it just me, or does the world seemed skewed? When people trying to do something to make the world better receive criticism, and people who make a photo sharing app are lauded as success stories, then I think we need to do some re-evaluation of our priorities.

But maybe that’s just me.

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How do you deal with a world that is messy? danah boyd at RMIT.

I had the privilege this afternoon to listen to  danah boyd * deliver a talk entitled, ‘Privacy in Networked Publics’, at RMIT. danah is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, a Visting Researcher at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. I’ve long admired danah’s work, and regularly read her blog, danah boyd | apophenia. If you’re looking to understand what teenagers are thinking about when it comes to their behaviours in social networks, then danah’s research findings are the place to start.

danah presents at a blistering pace, and I took copious notes along the way. I’m not going to recount all of what was said, and you’ll be able to check into the RMIT website to listen to the podcast yourself when it is loaded there in the very near future. What I will do is discuss some of the things she said that resonated with me.

danah described teenagers’ participation in social networks as ‘social grooming’. We are seeing our children form and sustain friendships in public spaces on the Internet. I can vouch for this. When I was a teenager, I was out and about with friends on the weekend and after school, and my friendships were formed in what were public spaces, but often private in terms of my parent’s knowledge of what I was doing. The same can’t be said for my own children. They are home a lot of the time, escorted to events and picked up by their parents. Their social lives are lived in large part in online spaces like Facebook and through games where they play online with other kids they know. One thing I’m not doing is friending them in their networks. We have open discussions about their participation and I hammer home the need for control of privacy settings, but I don’t look over their shoulders and peer deeply into their social lives. I respect their need for their own development. They will make mistakes, I’m quite sure of it, but that’s part of the learning curve of life I figure.   I know that I needed space to become my own person when I was a teenager, and they need the same.

danah talked of ‘bedroom culture’ being a feature of participation, and suggested it is a natural extension of what has always been. Once again, I could relate. The only space that was truly mine as a teenager was my room; it was where I practised the latest dance moves in front of the mirror, experimented with make-up, read, slept, did homework, and dumped my clothes all over the floor. It was where my friends and I went when they visited. It was my space and it was important to me. I watch my daughter and see similar patterns, especially the clothes all over the floor. She has a laptop and we have a wireless home connection. She spends time with her friends in online spaces in the environment that she owns. I respect her need to do that. It’s her space, and its important to her.

danah made some interesting points about kids she has interviewed who have their parents as friends on sites like Facebook. She talked of teenagers ‘hiding in plain sight’. One teenager’s comment was ‘everyone disappears after the Mum post’, referring to parents who reply to their kid’s status updates. danah made reference to coded messages teenagers use to achieve a level of privacy for themselves and admitted that even she, who spends so much time examining these networks, can’t work out the coded nature of wall posts. Her overarching message was a need for open dialogue with your children, and a level of trust. She spoke of how kids today are learning to live in a world of surveillance, and are trying to carve out a level of privacy for themselves in these environments. Some have moved away from the very public Facebook to networks like Twitter, where they can make locked accounts and add only who they want into their network. There they feel more sure that what they say will not be escalated to wide scale broadcasting, and nor will they have people they don’t want peering into their conversations.

Her comments on the idea of sexual predators online were really interesting. She said, if my notes are accurate, the ‘Sexual predator statistically doesn’t exist’. The point being, there are few of these instances occurring given the fact that 93% of teenagers are operating in social networks of one form or another. She spoke of conducting 400 studies with all the evidence pointing towards less danger in online spaces than what was imagined, and was told to go back and conduct more research! What we do see is our television and newspaper media honing in on incidents and giving the impression there is danger in every interaction online. She spoke of Australia being “one of the only places competing with the US on fear mongering”. Strong words, and quite possibly, the truth.

danah spoke of how she sees us grappling with a culture of fear and it intersecting with the attention economy we find ourselves living in. Her final points were prompted from a question from Camilla Elliott about how we as educators deal with all of this in schools today. She spoke of the necessity for digital literacy teaching in our schools, and stressed that we should be looking at it with a health and wellbeing focus in mind. She said there is a case for teachers violating the rules of Facebook and setting up second accounts, separate from their own personal accounts. You would share the password to the account with your school principal. Here, teachers could accept friend requests from students, but not request that students become their friends. This space would be where teachers could operate with an eyes wide open approach to safety for kids.  An interesting thought, one that would certainly be at odds with much of what is recommended to teachers today in terms of Facebook use.

danah asked the question to us all, “How do you deal with a world that is messy?” Some of how we go about doing that is looking to the kids themselves and noting how they are managing their online lives. For those of us dealing with this head on in schools, I think it’s about dialogue. It’s about making time in our curriculums to have these conversations, it’s about creating safe spaces where kids feel OK about sharing their concerns, it’s about using social tools/spaces within curriculum so we can model behaviours. It’s a big job, and we need people to do it. That means we need teachers who are willing to be well versed in social networks themselves, and who are willing to commit themselves to learning from experts like danah who have spent years immersed in their understanding.

Thanks danah, for a stimulating presentation. Neurons are firing. I hope what I’ve written here is true to the intentions of your presentation. Please do correct me if there is anything here I have misconstrued.

*why is danah’s name always in lower case? She explains it on her ‘about me’ page.

My birth name was “danah michele mattas” (spelled all funky because my mother loved typographical balance). Two years later, my brother Ryan was born. My parents divorced when i was five and my mother, brother and i set off for York, Pennsylvania. My mother re-married when i was in the third grade and we moved to Lancaster. Shortly afterwards, all of us changed our name to “Beard.” My mother and step-father divorced when i was in the 9th grade, but we stayed in Lancaster. In college, i changed my last name to “boyd” to honor my grandfather. When doing the legal paperwork, i switched back to a lower-cased style to reflect my mother’s original balancing and to satisfy my own political irritation at the importance of capitalization.

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Sometimes, Twitter raises my stress levels

One thing I’ve noticed during this holiday break, is that increased access to Twitter is raising my stress levels.

Why, I hear you asking?

During the working week, my exposure to Twitter is infrequent. I read and share when I can, and that’s usually at the end of a working day. I just don’t have time to check in regularly at work, unless I’m seeking information to help us solve an issue. Holidays afford me the leisure of watching the stream more frequently throughout the day, but I’m noticing the obsessive hold it can have on you. What comes with the stream is the need to read more, to engage with the content, to think. I’m supposed to be relaxing, and instead my mind is racing as I think about the recent changes to Facebook and what that might mean for our students, the release of the Kindle Fire, Seth Godin’s thoughts about  the forever recession and the coming revolution, and just what on earth is Google Gravity?

Maybe it’s because I’d found what I thought was a kind of balance in my life in recent times, that this imbalance seems to make my heart and mind race.

I know the answer. Tune out. Check in at set times. Don’t constantly watch the stream. All things I’ve told myself before, but I think I need reminding…

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