Monday, 27 May 2013

Using Science to Solve 21st Century Problems


Image courtesy of leaveyourdailyhell.com
In Vietnam, there is a huge problem with beach erosion. This is largely due to human error as many developers have dredged the coral reefs out to make lime for concrete, not understanding their protective powers as a barrier to erosion. Many resorts have learned this lesson the hard way, building obstructive erosion control buffers in a variety of retaining walls which leads guest to other resorts.The problem is cyclical. Many developers will take coral from another stretch down the beach to solve a problem in another location only to find years later the destructive consequences of their actions.


www.panoramio.com
Beach holidays are common in Vietnam with destinations being Phu Quoc island, Mui Ne and Danang. All locations are seeing an increase in erosion. Although this is a natural phenomenon, human activities are accelerating the problem. As a science teacher, I wonder if awareness can be spread from a young age and may our young people participate in finding solutions? I decided to approach this with a problem based learning approach with a series of challenges and share our research with the Vietnamese community by investigating:

                    "How do particle size and density influence the erosion of beach sand?" 
                                    "What are the alternatives to beach replenishment?"

Early Steps
Calculating density of various sediments
A problem as large as this has a number of steps that require critical thinking and problem solving which, as a teacher, I find particularly interesting. Although the students have done experiments on soil porosity and drainage, they now had to figure how to measure the density and particle size of soil.
We used a google doc to compare our notes as we measured density and sediment size although the latter was difficult to accurately measure. We were even able to reinforce some mathematics skills such a eliminating outliers, averaging numbers and even compare measurements on the side of beakers with volume formulas recently learned in the math classroom.

It's amazing to see what happens when students work on an authentic task. They become instantly curious. Ask questions. You can see sparks, like their interest, fly. Students were coming up for me to teach them a mini lesson on how to control the volume of water going through a model, and while we're at it, how do we measure the volume of water traveling down a river?

Measuring erosion
Once we knew answers to those questions, students were able to hypothesize on how density and sediment
size may influence erosion. Using stream table troughs, they were able to conduct controlled experiments by constructing a river setting. Although the wave action of the ocean would be more appropriate, we thought that it would be hard to standardize and that natural stream erosion would be similar but we could chock up the difference under 'sources of error'. Some students used river models, some tried to recreate a beach type setting. Afterwards, all groups came to the same conclusion: higher density and larger sized sediments erode slower than lower density and smaller sediments. Some students wrote up their research on their blogs (in order to share to beach resorts later) and we gave each other peer review. We even had a local Vietnamese scientist validate our conclusions through a skype chat.


Alternatives to Beach Replenishment
Testing Erosion Control Devices
Using science to understand our natural world works is only half of the equation. The second part was engineering an erosion control device to minimize or stop the problem that was a.) scientifically proven to reduce beach erosion and b.) aesthetically pleasing. This is where the fun of engineering and STEM initiatives took hold. Students had created a number of devices that remixed our current body of knowledge with creativity. Through controlled experiments, they were able to understand the effectiveness of their device in order to make recommendations for larger scale of production and also recommend construction materials based the nature of their materials. Groups beamed their research (in the form of a blog URL) to resorts around Vietnam and already we have gotten many thank you's and invites for service projects. One of the benefits of project based learning: it can lead to volunteerism.




Using Science to Solve 21st Century Problems
I'm very proud of this work that my students did. Shifts in standards have advocated for inquiry, problem solving and the emphasis that there is not one correct answer in science. Data may support many conclusions depending on your variables which applies to both science and life. This is what makes science so fun; students can take the role of science and practice it; not merely pass content knowledge on tests. They are scientists and we don't tell them the answer, they discover it on their own.

Building takes a part too. As students learn of the nature of materials, they learn what such materials are used for. They don't just understand density, they start to understand what high and low density materials are used for. Suddenly, they start to see that a bicycle frame is made of aluminum because it's durable and light, much better than iron. They also understand why a cooking spoon is covered in plastic-it's an insulator and metal is a conductor. Suddenly, they see this knowledge making sense of the world around them rather than passing it for a test.

Such projects inspire students. I think of Zach Bonner who started the "Little Red Wagon" charity foundation or Alex Loors who started a student campaign against global warming and it's inspiring to think that young students can feel so compelled to be an agent of change. Giving our students the opportunity to care, the opportunity to conduct research and the opportunity to make a difference in their local community is the most important job we can do.


Related Posts
Field Trips for Advocacy and Awareness
The Power of Essential Questions
Educating for the 21st Century: Data Report on New York Performance Standards Consortium (Great Essential Question Ideas)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Google Drawings for Collaborative Problem Solving

This article first appeared in Fractus Learning on May 23rd, 2013.

Last week I was sick and needed a way to model problem-solving with my students from home. We are in the midst of a unit on multi-step equations which is the last stepping stone before the end of the year and Algebra 1. I wanted a way that I could talk my students through inverse operations and balancing both sides of an equation. In the past, I've used construction paper cut-outs and white boards, but the situation called for something more innovative.


Starting with a multi-step equation with components in text boxes.
Starting with a multi-step equation with components in text boxes.

The collaborative sharing nature of Google apps can give an entire class access to a single document. This also applies to a Google drawing, which has great applications for the math class. In the example above, I started the class with a multi-step problem with the equation at the top and the components needed in the problem solving process below. I asked students to:
  • Make like terms the same color with the "fill paint" icon.
  • Balance both sides of the equation using the inverse operations.
  • Make the components that separated terms one color. (plus and minus signs)
  • Indicate the icon that signified the fulcrum of the equation (equal sign)
  • Drag boxes up underneath the equation to indicate how they would solve the problem.

Working together, students were able to identify like and unlike terms and balance an equation.  
Based on the success of this problem, I chose to use Google drawings for subsequent lessons for small group instruction and remediation. Using the simple scribble tool I was able to write up some pretty basic inequalities and give access to the students in order to help guide the problem solving process.
Sample multistep problem that all students can access
Working in teams, students could apply the process of balancing an equation with inverse operations to solve for the missing variable and graphing it on the number line. Although some students were ready for independent practice, some needed 3-4 examples before they felt comfortable doing it on their own.
The finished product
I think Google drawings are the most undervalued application in the Google arsenal of learning tools and they have great possibilities as a formative assessment tool. The accessibility and editing rights of drawings allows for a number of interesting projects that I'm just starting to explore. In addition to working collaboratively on one problem as a class, I've also facilitated a number of activities that have supported learning through a variety of ways such as:
  • Having groups make a copy of a drawing and solve problems on their own or as part of an extension activity outside of class.
  • Group investigations of problem solving strategies. For example, posting a problem and asking one group to show how you could draw a picture to visualize it, another group to state the problem, another group to eliminate unnecessary information and another group to make a table to organize information.
  • Writing a story that would exemplify the problem in a real world setting.
  • Differentiating problems through blooms taxonomy hierarchy for mixed ability classrooms.
  • Linking such problems to the student's blogs as part of their their learning portfolio, because let's face it: who keeps worksheets or their math notebook at the end of the year?
   

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Collaborating, Working Together and Sitting Side by Side


Image courtesy of CC
Yesterday I read some of my students the riot act. During a lab, they were goofing around and letting all the others in their group do the work for them. Sound familiar? I excused them outside for a few minutes and after a quick chat, asked them if they'd like to come back in and participate. At the end of the activity when were comparing density of sediments, I addressed the students and apologized if I hadn't given enough guidance to individuals although each 5 person team had to measure density, sediment size and also log their data on a collaborative chart. Working together, they're able to divide up the work, focus on a job task that is interesting for them, and accomplish a task that would be difficult for any one person to do.

Did I miss something in the planning process? Inquiry: check. Technology integration: check. Real world problem solving, hands on activities, cooperative learning: check, check, check. Do how do the best laid plans of mice and men go awry? Oh yeah. Learning is messy. Students have different levels of engagement. A teacher could put together the most engaging lesson with visuals, manipulatives and when they start introducing the activity, there is at least one yawning face in the crowd.

Image courtesy of CC
I find myself asking the question: how can my student's benefit from collaboration? Although my students were working together, I think sometimes the act of sitting next to each other while they're working is mistaken for collaboration. I think that the video: "To this Day" that was crowdsourced made a beautiful product: the like of which no one individual could ever do. Projects like this are popping up all around us. Will Richardson is making a "Why School" movie and is asking for interested teachers to send URL's of videos that showcase authentic student learning and I've jumped at the chance. Coincidentally, my science students have started their end of the year project on tackling the problem of beach erosion here in Vietnam through a number of activities, labs and tech tools to share their research with a larger audience. A lot more meaningful than just filming my students taking tests.

Such challenges require creativity and problem solving skills. Should students work together or individually for this? Susan Cain writes that working together can impede individual creativity when we think that working together always fosters intrapersonal skills. Psychologist Adrian Furnham says:

“If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”

How does a teacher with all their demands manage such work environments? It's no longer good enough to have a sound understanding of one's curriculum and good assessment practices, but become a networked educator, experiment with technology integration and see what other innovators are doing in the world of education. Through this we as a collective body teach one another, invite review and get ideas that spark a pedagogical shift in our teaching philosophy that makes students feel like we appreciate them for their own interests and talents and genuinely want to harness them. If we don't innovate, we stagnate.

Blueprints for this style of learning are sketchy because we don't even know what meaningful collaboration should or could look like. Ideological models pop up but are waved to in passing as teachers drive by on the way to slogging through a curriculum with no interest in using this new knowledge or skills for anything meaningful. I like to think that every teacher has a choice to participate in these, but also be a sharer of such victories when students are engaged in activities where they feel that they have "made a difference". Networking with my PLN has given me such ideas and I'm hoping our beach erosion study this month will be a nice stepping stone for "Genius Hour" projects next year in grade 7 science.

All of this makes me feel like I can do better. Teach better. Inspire better. Funny how things that we so firmly believed in doing five years ago have given way to more innovative learning styles and I wonder if my thoughts today will go by the wayside as students start using Google glass in the near future. I can't imagine any other profession that is so multidisciplinary, so rapidly evolving, so frightening, so exciting and so rewarding.

Related Posts
Can we teach creativity?
Creating and evaluating online communities

Friday, 17 May 2013

Learner Profiles: Middle School Learners and Technological Privacy

Overview
The purpose of this study was to identify trends of how Middle School students (age 11 to 14) are managing their privacy settings with regards to internet use within a divisional focus of our school. The aim of this study was to build a profile of middle school learners and determine if there were any differences with regards to internet privacy and sharing and to make recommendations to students, parents and teaching staff. Questions ranged from quantitative data such as what information they post on social networks, and qualitative data such as asking students to rate their privacy comfort. Naturally, we were interested in looking for discrepancies and stark differences in data samples such as students that posted a lot of information about themselves on social networks but were "very concerned" about what information they posted. This focus deals primarily with standards related to digital citizenship surrounding technology practice, ethical behavior, and responsibility. For more ICT standards, see the International Society for Technology in Education.


Case Studies
Image courtesy of CC
Surveys about online use have typically focused on cyber bullying trends at our school. However, recent case studies have demonstrated that many digital immigrants (persons born before1980) are not aware of their privacy settings and their implications. It is our hypothesis that although digital natives (people born after 1980) have grown up in the internet age, they are more socially promiscuous with the amount of information that they share in an attempt to win friends and expand their social network. Other questions focused on whether students felt that they could access social networks while working in a public place in their house or if they needed privacy to do so.

Image courtesy of CC
With companies like Google constantly updating and refining their privacy settings and employers using social media sites like Facebook for background checks in the hiring process, these questions seemed particularly relevant. The new norm with many careers requiring technical training and evaluation is on the rise, as is online recruiting and evaluation of a a candidate's digital footprint. Although middle school learners are years away from getting a job, many colleges start evaluating candidates during a student's junior year which gives 8th graders only a few years of content creation to build a good personal profile. Some students are combating this challenge by closing their old social media accounts and creating a more whitewashed, sanitized one to make them more marketable and cast themselves in a positive light.

The implications of this are far reaching. Students that say disparaging comments about others are opening themselves unwittingly for investigation and even disciplinary action. Such is the case of students that make disparaging comments about others in academic settings, and even cases of commenting on others outside of academic institutions. Although our school has an internet use policy which is signed by parents and students, some students are not aware that everything that they write creates a digital record that can be recorded with a screen shot, making its deletion impossible. With this phenomenon, the line is blurred between public and private, free speech and censorship and what should and shouldn't be posted on social networks. Here are our findings.


1.) Students usually put pictures of themselves and their friends on social networks. The most common information that students put on social networks was photos of friends followed by photos of themselves, their actual name and surprisingly, the name of their school. From a privacy standpoint, the name of a student's school may be information students should not post, but students did indicate that they did not divulge their home address, although one student did which is statistically irrelevant. One statistic that was interesting is that less than a quarter of students said they put their actual age online, perhaps to skirt minimum age requirements for social media sites like Facebook or to present themselves as more experienced.


Analysis: Because we are blogging at our school, it is encouraging that students are linking their digital footprint to their blog and 23% said that they have a link to their blog on social websites. Information that probably shouldn't be put online are their parent's names, phone numbers and IM screen names, but this is a low percentage of those surveyed. For parents who are country ambassadors or embassy members with heightened security settings, they may want to extra vigilant about the friends of their children who may who put pictures of their children online in an attempt to be social as 58% of respondents said that they posted pictures of friends.


2.) Students generally don't give out their username and password to access both school and social media sites. Roughly 80% said that they don't give this information to another student, but 22% of students said they have given information pertaining to school related websites compared to 13% who have given access to social websites.



Analysis: It's not surprising that students may give occasional access to their friends for a school related website if that friend lost a password or the teacher is unavailable, but one recommendation based on the fact that (13% of students have given access to friends to access media sites) is to present the case study of how giving friends access to personal websites can potentially invite embarrassing and joking comments posted from the behalf of a "friend".


3.) Students are generally not concerned with their privacy. The responses took on typical bell distribution curve but most students were not concerned at all. 


Analysis: Perhaps MS students are too young to understand the implications of privacy on the internet because they don't know it could be a hindrance in the future. Because they are not using it to get a job or apply for college, their general feelings about privacy concerns may not yet be realized.


4.) Most students put their personal information on Skype and Facebook. In the graph below, we thought that Facebook would be the most popular, followed by Twitter and then Google, so we were surprised that students are using the video conferencing tool "Skype" for their profile more than any other social media site.


Analysis: Although Skype can be used to socialize, it is starting to be used by students in schools around the world to discuss homework assignments and solve problems. Because 86% have information of themselves on Skype, we think that could be the most underutilized tool in education. Because so many students using Skype, there are a number of unrealized possibilities for learning such as video conferencing with professionals, crowd sourcing projects and transforming the online persona from mere lurkers to active participants.


5.) Students generally favor internet access from private locations in their house. A common complaint from both students and parents is the amount of time students spend on the internet doing school work. In extreme cases of homework neglect, meetings with parents have produced insights to students doing school work after or intermittently between skype and google chats with their friend. In a more real sense, they may be online for four hours, but actually doing school work for only 1 hour. Students often don't see the disparity.




Analysis: For parents, we think that this is the most insightful trend. Only a third of students do online school work in a public place in their house, mostly likely at the behest of their parents: "Get your homework done where I can see you Johnny an then you can go talk to your friends in your room". For students that have difficulty with time management and homework completion, parents may consider designating public work spaces in the house. Helping students access online organizational platforms like moodle and checking academic progress through powerschool can also aid learning expectations.

Final Note
Teaching students about privacy management can not fall solely on the shoulders of ICT teachers. All staff and parents should learn and teach students good digital citizenry to ensure good practice through many different contexts ranging from the core subjects to personal use. Staff and parents who build their own digital footprint through their own social network and build content through their own blog, youtube page, or other media site would naturally have a greater expertise in this matter and be more experienced in providing advice about digital privacy.

By Lisa Featherstone and Gary Johnston

Related Readings
Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks-Pew Research

Friday, 10 May 2013

I Got Plagiarized, and How I Dealt With It


Yesterday, a pingpack on an article I wrote for Fractus Learning indicated that there were similarities between content of an article I wrote and a new post from a recent blogger. I could put a link to my article and the bloggers post but I've decided against it at this time, not to embroil him in any controversy or expand a negative footprint of this person but they basically had copied whole paragraphs from my original article along with headings and bullet points. Robert helped me dig a little deeper and found that this person has:
  • Their own youtube channel with one video
  • A flickr account with (ironically) all rights reserved
  • He's a third year student at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.
  • He's planning to be a secondary Biology or Geography teacher
  • Most likely, he's a novice with regards to copyright issues in education
  • He obviously thinks copying and pasting is "OK"
Knowing this makes me dangerous for this person. For starters, the post which he plagiarized felt like a review for a university ICT class. Since I have taken screenshots of the original article, even if he deletes it, there will still be a digital record. If this was in fact for a university course, I could potentially report this activity to his administrators at the University of Southern Queensland and see what sort of disciplinary action plays out. Possibly expulsion for academic dishonesty.

Image Courtesy of CC


I could also link his blog, name and screenshots to my article and tag his name. If this post I am now writing goes viral (which I doubt), there will be a growing record. Suppose this person goes looking for a job and their employer finds this post. Will they forever be at risk of not getting a job because they made a mistake once and are now forever labeled a plagiarist? If I really wanted to be a jerk, I could leave comments on his flickr and youtube sites. I asked for some guidance from my COETAILS cohort and they provided this tender advice:




I Started by Writing a Kind Request
I started by leaving a comment on his post and also alerting my editor of this as Fractus Learning has a copyright "all rights reserved". The comments that I wrote were not approved so are not visible to readers. My editor wrote back that enforcing such issues are difficult.


The Final Word
This illustrates the reality of copyright and fair use practices with the internet today: they're impossible to enforce. This was a minor example too. What about the person who writes a biography of George Washington on Wikipedia which results in thousands of pirated copies for history students around the world? Because of what the blogger wrote, his post could be categorized under fair use as

"the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose"-Copyright Act

In the whole scheme of things, this is not on par with more reprehensible crimes such as murder. But this does make one wonder with the enormous contents being created on the internet, how much of it is remixed, original or purely duplicated. When students are young, the stakes of this infraction are small. But as they age, we expect a growing awareness of copyright issues through source citation. We may use fact checkers like Turnitin to compare student work with what is on the net, but we also have to make examples of people so students learn from their mistakes and model how to source authors.

I've decided not to reveal this to his university either as this may impede his ability to pursue an advanced degree, but I am holding screen shots of them as a hole card if needed. What I did do though, is put a link to this post as a pending comment on his blog. Perhaps he'll reply with something original to say.

Related Posts
Managing your Digital Footprint as an Educator


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Teaching Cybersafety: Who's Job?


Should Teachers or Parents Monitor Cyber safety?
I believe schools can take a proactive stance on cyber safety by offering PD to staff members so students are not given tech advice only by ICT personnel that they may see for only one period every other day. For teachers using a variety of web 2.0 tools, things can go from playful to pretty mean, pretty quick.

Image Courtesy of CC
Despite having an acceptable use policy, I surveyed my students last year with the question of who should intervene when cyber bullying flares up. Overwhelmingly, they said that it should be the students jobs to intervene. Most common reasons were that parents were not technology literate enough or usually in different rooms in the house and teachers were not involved with their social networks. I wonder if students actually have the will to intervene when they see disparaging comments from their friends.

One study from Patricia Snell suggests that cyber bullying (especially for girls) may be a sadistically social activity and the process of ganging up on someone may be a way to build comradarie amongst a small clique of friends. A good discussion point we had last night about this is that conflict is drama and drama is entertaining. When students see a negative conversation with sparks flying, they are drawn to it like fireworks on the fourth of July. Some people would rather watch an accident happen than rush in to help. Do 11 year olds have the maturity to step in as mediators, or will they take the side of their friend which allows them the most upward social mobility?

We'd like think of adults being more mature than this, but this is not true either. Every day we are bombarded with our choice of opinionated mud-slinging from talking heads from one side of the aisle to the other and instead of intervening with "Dear Jon- You should be more thoughtful of what you said to Rush.", we take a side, plant a sign with our opinion and declare ourselves either with us or them. Opinions, propaganda and rumor mills are profligated by talk shows, news media and is a multimillion dollar industry.

Ann Coulter has made a living from negative comments. Image courtesy of CC

How should be having Conversations about Cyber safety with students?
Our advisory program (pastoral) has had some good resources and lessons about cyber safety and cyber bullying. What I have found most interesting through these discussion (and perhaps disheartening) is that students do and say things online and don't think what they're actually doing is bullying. One case is of friends who logged on to a friends account when she was away at the computer and sent a message to a potential suitor her and negating her chances. Another interesting one is "Sarah's Secret" who learned that some classmates made a website with embarrassing pictures of her and she didn't inform anyone. Not even her parents.

Image courtesy of CC

It seems like there are two approaches we can have: proactive and reactive. Although reactive conversations with school counselors and administrators will never go away, I think the rise of the networked educator will have a great propensity to discuss and  in a proactive way.

"Teachers that develop their own professional learning network join the ranks of technology resource facilitators by modelling appropriate use, digital ettiqutte and privacy settings"

I have felt this especially in the last three years as I've expanded my digital footprint. Where before, I would need a ICT professional to address such matters, I now find myself a little more experienced with such matters: at least enough to give the students case studies, think pieces and advice to make good choices.
Trying to build a school culture where cyberbullying is non-existant is like thinking a city can be 100% crime free- it can't happen. But we can build a healthy community, build respect and keep the chatter to a minimum.

Related Posts
Managing your digital footprint as an educator
Why should we connect students?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Videopad


Videopad is a great video editing software for making media for the novice or advanced movie maker. With so much content being available online, having a somewhat decent video rather than a long continuous filming session may invite more viewers and keep their attention.

The Videopad Dashboard.

When uploading all your videos, there is an immediate archive and notification if whether the uploaded videos have been included in the current timeline.


The media list shows duration of raw clips and whether it's been added

When working with multiple soundtracks, there is a nice timeline that shows how you might have some soundtracks overlapping one another. Videopad allows you to "unlink" sound to video so you can have a narration in place of the recorded sound while filming. See an example here.

Multiple soundtracks can be muted, cut and overlapped for stylistic effect
I've really got into making movies in the last year and I've come to enjoy it. At any one time I'll have 2-4 movies in various stages of production on my desktop that I make showcasing student activities, diving trips or social shindigs. My youtube channel has steadily grown and although I am no where near an expert level, I feel that I've come to make some reasonable quality videos with this tool.

Some Recent Movies of Mine Made with Videopad
Our SSIS-A day in our lives as teachers
Diving Palau Weh, Indonesia
Week Without Walls- Middle School Field Trip

Friday, 3 May 2013

Managing Your Digital Footprint as an Educator

How would a digital profile help or hinder you if you went looking for a new job?
Our digital footprint has become a reflection of who we are, whether we like it or not. "According to a survey of 300 hiring professionals conducted by Reppler, a social media monitoring service for managing online presence, a job candidate’s social network is thoroughly examined during the hiring process by 91 percent of employers and recruiters." Some other interesting facts from the study are:
  • 68% rejected a candidate based on what they saw on a Social Networking site.
  • 69% a candidate based on what they saw on a Social Networking site.
Image Courtesy of CC
Of course a positive footprint would be beneficial if you are a thoughtful blogger or contributor to a journal or periodical, but bad content can haunt you. Kindly email curators of negative comments to take them down and there are even agencies that you can hire like ReputationHawk or ReputationDefender that charge a fee for removing disparaging content from clients.    






How can you manage your digital footprint as an international educator?
Google yourself with advanced search settings including your profession and school and see what comes up. After I did mine, I was surprised to see that many comments that I wrote on news websites and blogs had come up. An extreme case of this is presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose "Google Problem" which has been the product of Dan Savage's blog "Spreading Santorum". When you google Rick Santorum, this blog is prominently displayed, parodying his views on gay marriage. Although Mr. Santorum could hire an army of volunteers to pump out whitewashed propaganda on him in order to dilute this slight on him, a number of news agencies have already been remixing and revitalizing the story. Some other things to consider:
  • Don't Friend Students. There is grey area between social media and professionalism and if you're commenting on a weekend bender, misbehaving students or showing support for a gay colleague, you may find information that was meant from a few spreads with devastating consequences. If you must, have a separate account for your students and one for your adult friends.
  • Be Professional Outside of the Classroom. I'm a frequent commenter on the Huffington and Washington post and although my interactions usually have little to do with school, people searching for me might find my stance on an issue. Be respectful and courteous and don't assume that your comments will only be read by those involved in the current conversation.
  • Evolve from a Lurker to Contributor. Take time to comment on blogs or journals in support of ideas or offer dissenting points of view. Not only does this create a greater wealth of perspectives, but as you often sign in with login details from social sites, you'll further expand your digital footprint.
  • Learn About your Social Networks. My mom just got a facebook account last year and she's been exploring it's applications and it's insights. She thought it was strange that so many of her friends sent her birthday wishes last month when she didn't tell anyone it was her birthday; to which we replied: "It's on your timeline and facebook sends reminders to your friends!" A 2010 survey on Jobvite showed LinkedIn used most by employers for background checks followed by Facebook.

What then are the implications for students and how should educators be teaching them to have a positive digital footprint?

Most people don't realize how Google's privacy settings affect them and only learn about the consequences when they read shocking articles such as the one by John Brownlee which shows how when you make visible your location settings and start texting or tweeting to Twitter or Facebook, many people would have access to where you are through google maps, where you are walking as they know your address and write you a text on behalf of your brother as they know your family members. A lone girl walking home from the bar might not even know that while she thinks she's simply recapping the night, she might be inviting potential rapists with her information which gives them her complete profile and agenda.

Banksy Image Courtesy of CC
Obviously, we need to teach students about what should and what shouldn't included on social networks and this may vary depending on your schools acceptable use policy. We may also think that using source citation is the most important part of working with media to prevent plagiarism. However, every time you write and even search for something, there is a record. When need to teach students that when they search for fertilizer, the FBI may be watching, and when they search for porn, their parents may be watching. Either way, someone is watching and their privacy may be an illusion.  



Related Posts
Copyright Infringement in Education: Grey Waters
Filtering ourselves away from the World

Our SSIS-Digital Story

My wife and I made a short movie of a typical school day here at our school. Called "Our SSIS", it chronicles an average day told from our alternating perspectives as a digital story. Enjoy and feel free to comment!




Related Posts on Google Sketchup
Using the SAMR model to make furniture real


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Creating and Evaluating Online Communities
Why should we connect students?

Related Movies
SSIS "Gangnam Style"
How Commenters Improve our Math and Science Skills
Grade 7 Week Without Walls 2013