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Posts Tagged ‘Cybersafety’

Online Safety is for Teachers Too

April 30th, 2008 Dennis Harter 5 comments

Ian Shapira from The Washington Post has written an article this week describing how many young teachers in Washington DC have Facebook accounts that are publicly accessible and are filled with content that represents them in inappropriate ways. Essentially, they are being young adults, but in a way that they don’t realize is in the public domain.

It’s almost like Googling someone: Log on to Facebook. Join the Washington, D.C., network. Search the Web site for your favorite school system. And then watch the public profiles of 20-something teachers unfurl like gift wrap on the screen, revealing a sense of humor that can be overtly sarcastic or unintentionally unprofessional — or both.

The article goes on to ask whether teachers should be judged on their out-of-school lives if it doesn’t affect their effectiveness with students:

Do the risque pages matter if teacher performance is not hindered and if students, parents and school officials don’t see them? At what point are these young teachers judged by the standards for public officials?

In states including Florida, Colorado, Tennessee and Massachusetts, teachers have been removed or suspended for MySpace postings, and some teachers unions have begun warning members about racy personal Web sites. But as Facebook, with 70 million members, and other social networking sites continue to grow, scrutiny will no doubt spread locally.

Whether they “should” or not is a big discussion point, but whether they “will” or not really isn’t.

In today’s society where political correctness reigns and public scrutiny and “moral” standards are held in front of everyone’s face, there is no doubt that Washington DC will follow the other states in removing teachers for social networking behavior.

Do adults need to be re-taught what privacy means since it’s meaning has changed with the coming of the internet?

Do they know how to manage their own Facebook accounts – never mind teach students how to protect theirs?

Like several other teachers interviewed, Webster said she thought her page could be seen only by people she accepted as “friends.” But like those of many teachers on Facebook, Webster’s profile was accessible by the more than 525,000 members of the Washington, D.C., network. Anyone can join any geographic network.

Are young teachers in training ready to defend their Facebook profile in an interview?

“I know for a fact that when a superintendent in Missouri was interviewing potential teachers last year, he would ask, ‘Do you have a Facebook or MySpace page?’ ” said Todd Fuller, a spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, which is warning members to clean up their pages. “If the candidate said yes, then the superintendent would say, ‘I’ve got my computer up right now. Let’s take a look.’ “

Ultimately, the lessons of cyber-safety and responsibility that we teach our students needs to be shared with our teachers too. It should be included in their professional training (along with learning to use web 2.0 tools to enhance education of course).

All students, no matter what future profession they go into, also need to see the importance of knowing what they share and how they share online. And what better way to model this for a teacher than to share the very impact it has on our own lives and how we are perceived through what we and others share online.

Too many believe that the rules of public behavior are abandoned in Facebook. Here’s a terrific video which makes this very clear. Thanks to Brian Lockwood for the link to this on Twitter.


Teens protecting themselves

July 31st, 2007 Dennis Harter 1 comment

Not to belabor a point, but here’s another article on social networking safety. In particular, I like this quote:

Increasingly, it’s the teens who are starting to protect themselves.

According to the article, a Pew Internet & American Life Project study indicates that about 1/4th of teens with online profiles use their full name and only 11% make them visible to the public eye. Most are marking their sites as private, only for friends (or people they claim to know…an important distinction that we can’t forget).

I like the sound of this. My worry has been that we need to teach this stuff…I think that we still do. But it’s good to know that despite our slowness to change in schools, that kids are figuring this stuff out. Not enough though, as I mentioned in another post.

Safety by accidentStill, this is good news. With our help, just imagine how safe they could be.

Then again they are also still behaving irresponsibly…and that’s our job too.

Here are some other stats (good news and bad news) from that same study that the Washington Post shared in another article:

  • 82% include their first name.
  • 79% post photos of themselves.
  • 66% include photos of their friends.
  • 61% include the name of their city.
  • 49% include the name of their school.
  • 40% have included an instant-message screen name.
  • 40% stream audio to the profile.
  • 39% link to a blog.
  • 29% include an e-mail address.
  • 29% included their last name.
  • 29% post videos.
  • 2% include a cellphone number.

And if you are really interested here’s a third WashPosting with data on teens and maintaining privacy from that same Pew study.

By the way…I’m back from vacation…lots to do…write…think….not in that order, I hope.

Photo found through Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Endlisnis.

The price of fame without being famous

May 30th, 2007 Dennis Harter 2 comments

In her high school track and field career, [Allison] Stokke had won a 2004 California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.

This is a quote from a Washington Post article on how a high school senior girl’s privacy and life has been turned upside down by the internet. A photo of her (that she didn’t even post) circulated and created “celebrity” status for her when she didn’t want it and didn’t ask for it.

We live in an age where celebrity life is scrutinized by paparazzi and Web 2.0 tools have allowed non-celebrities to actively seek their 15 minutes of fame through blogging, social networking, and YouTube.

But Allison Stokke didn’t actively seek anything. She is now living her own life, suffering the invasions of privacy, accepted by movie and rock stars, without any of the “perks” of that stardom.

Stokke has decided that control is essentially beyond her grasp. Instead, she said, she has learned a distressing lesson in the unruly momentum of the Internet. A fan on a Cal football message board posted a picture of the attractive, athletic pole vaulter. A popular sports blogger in New York found the picture and posted it on his site. Dozens of other bloggers picked up the same image and spread it. Within days, hundreds of thousands of Internet users had searched for Stokke’s picture and leered.

Creepy.

Now her father has to come home from work and scan message boards for potential stalkers!

Why am I blogging about this?

safetypin.jpgBecause, to me, this emphasizes the overwhelming obligation educators have to teach responsible use of the internet.

We need to teach being safe alongside acting responsibly.

We already teach kids to drive safely.

We have health classes that teach students about eating healthy, sex, and drugs.

We teach them to be safe.

And we teach them to act responsibly for the safety of others.

Now we find our students living in a world where their own safety and the safety of others is global in the blink of an eye.

So how can we not teach them the same things as they apply to the Internet?

Image by Marshall Astor, found at Flikr Creative Commons

2 Cents Worth » Social Networking Examined

March 20th, 2007 Dennis Harter No comments

(originally posted on harterlearning on Jan 9, 2007)

2 Cents Worth » Social Networking Examined:

The principal finding of that study revealed that 55% of online teens use social networks. To some degree, this percentage, though high, seems to contridict society’s notions about teens and their online world.

There is a widespread notion that every American teenager is using social networks, and that they’re plastering personal information over their profiles for anyone and everyone to read,” says Amanda Lenhart. “These findings add nuance to that story – not every teenager is using a social networking website, and of those that do, more than half of them have in some way restricted access to their profile.”(55% of online teens)

Findings of the study indicate that 66% of social networking teens have their profiles blocked from view by anyone but their friends.

So should we be scared? Maybe the numbers are not as bad as media makes them out to be. Warlick goes on to ask the more profound question though: “what should we be doing to embrace that 55% number?” After all what other activity do you know of that 55% of the population do? Not sports, not painting, not chess. His point is a good one…55% may be less than we thought, but 55% is a lot more than anything else.

How do we make it meaningful and educational? Can social networking be used as a learning environment? We are hoping to answer that with the creation of an e-learning community at our school in which teachers and students will interact with their students on course matter. Not that revolutionary, but at the same time we want to provide RSS and other features that allow for some customizability and some pursuit of personal interests – without turning it into a MySpace clutterfest (though our visually-literate students don’t seem to mind).