Saturday, August 7, 2010

Privacy Please

Do you know anyone who divulges just about every detail of their lives to 350 of their closest “friends” on Facebook or a Twitter user who lets the world know where they are and what they are doing 24 hours a day? They post pictures, report their run times, list the restaurants they frequent, and announce their plans. If these people aren’t careful with their privacy settings, they might be letting the world know more than they intended. As parents and teachers, we need to set a good example of how to safely use these sites and we need to teach our students how to maintain their privacy while they stay socially connected online.

What place do these types of sites have in schools? Many teachers are finding sites like Twitter and Facebook to be useful for conversation and collaboration in the classroom. Unfortunately, these sites are often blocked in schools for student safety. Educators and administrators who support allowing access to these sites in schools argue that we have the responsibility of teaching students how to safely use the sites instead of avoiding the problem altogether. For educators in this camp, there are plenty of resources out there to assist you with teaching your students important safety and privacy concerns involved with posting information on the internet. Joann’s featured Gateway lessons from CyberSmart this week include creative ways to help you teach students about internet privacy and safety. Another resource I recommend looking into as you explore this topic is a comprehensive compilation of resources put together by fellow Twitter user Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1), Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites. He has many links to information, games, and activities related to cybersafety.

How can we help our students discover the long term impact of the things they post online? It is important for students to understand that some employers and colleges check out prospective students’ online profiles as part of the admission or hiring process. When talking to junior high and high school students, it’s a good idea to remind them of this and to teach them how to manage their “digital footprint.” One suggested activity is to allow students with social networking accounts to create a word cloud of status updates or tweets on a site like Wordle. Students and teachers need to know that just about anything they post online can be found later, and a word cloud of things they are posting can give them a good idea of what kind of online image they are creating of themselves. A good piece of advice I heard once is “Don’t post anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your Grandma to read.” For activities and a better explanation of this topic, please check out Mr. Blumengarten’s digital footprint links. He also has a collection of cybersafety games to add a little fun.

For more information on privacy and safety in social networking, read this article from cnet news about privacy and security on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook also has a page dedicated to safety and a page for ideas about how to use Facebook in Education. You can find some good ideas and tips on these pages to safely and effectively integrate social networking into your curriculum. As always, remember to search The Gateway for more activities about student privacy. There are resources for many different age levels and subjects, and you can use the Standards Suggestion Tool to discover how these lessons can be aligned to your state standards.

~Peggy's Corner - 8/6/2010~

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