In An Internet Minute

User Created Image
User Created Image

Personal Privacy

In many ways, I don’t pay too much attention to personal privacy on Facebook.  I  have set my filters relatively high and I know I have signed up to post information to a public site, but most importantly, I use good judgement before posting which I think is one of the best filters of all.  Irritated with work? Not going to write about it on FB.  Mad at my husband – nada on my newsfeed.  Why?  Because that is not the forum in which I choose to air my frustrations. I do join groups based on my interests but again, I am mindful of how much information the people in these groups need.


This is not the approach everyone takes. I read about a case in Baltimore, Maryland about a 12 year old girl who was abducted and raped after her attacker initiated contact (which she reciprocated) through the live chat channel on her XBox. Her mom said she knew her child was chatting online but wasn’t aware of nature of the conversations.  Prior to her abduction, she engaged in another chat with another user in which she expressed remorse over the depth of information she had shared. After reading The Myth of Online Predators (which is over 5 years old) I would say that while we don’t want to solely focus on the doom and gloom of potential predators, I do think that the evolution of the internet is happening at such a fast pace, that we do have to continue to be vigilant rather than seek solace in the statistics quoted in the above article.

According to police in the Baltimore case:

Kik has become quite popular with minors, and anyone who knows a Kik account name can send messages to that user, which has made Kik an apparent hit with pedophiles, according to anecdotes from law enforcement officials across the country and around the world. One self-acknowledged pedophile told New Jersey’s The Trentonian that Kik was especially effective for obtaining pornographic images of children, particularly when combined with an app called Hit Me Up, which is no longer available in the US iOS app store.

Student Privacy

If you take a look at the Kik website, it looks harmless. I think this is where the value of strong internet safety teaching comes in.  Students need to be aware of the potential dangers and act responsibly even when parents or teachers are not watching.

At the same time, when parents ask me about how to keep their kids safe online, one of the first things I suggest is having computers used in public spaces in the home – not the bedroom. While this is not obviously a one-stop solution, I think it creates an atmosphere in which parents and children can co-exist and hopefully not get so deeply into inappropriate chat situations.

One of the things I talk about with my students with regard to privacy is the idea of optional contributions. There are so many ways in which websites can seek out our personal information. One of them is to add an asterisk* to indicate the field must be filled in. Other fields are either left without an asterisk or with the word (optional) beside them. I tell my students to think about why they may or may not fill these fields in. Primarily, my argument is that if they don’t really need the information, why give it to them?

Another is the chat forum.  How much time spent here is too much? We all know that the internet can “suck you in” – one click to another…but how much is too much for our students?

User Created Image. Photo Credit
User Created Image. Photo Credit

Take a look at what happens in “an internet minute” and you will see that this is a platform that is mind-blowingly huge.  Trying to block every user with ill-intentions is not going to happen.  Teaching our children to make smart choices, that is something we can (and should) do.



Course 2 Final Project: Seeking Collaborators!

Image Credit

Option 2: In a small group that contains at least one person outside your school, create a unit planner (using the UbD template) on the enduring understanding of this course that helps teach students about 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues. Include a reflective blog post describing choices you made in developing the unit planner i.e. strategies used, topics covered, unit evaluation etc. In your blog post embed your unit planner from Google Docs.

I would like to work on creating a unit planner for Digital Citizenship for upper Elementary students (Grades 3-5). We have some resources for this in place already, primarily from the Commonsense Media curriculum and the ISTE standards but I would like to create a unit that not only embodies these but also:

  • celebrates the awesomeness of the internet
  • focuses on the ways in which the internet is used for good
  • encourages the development of a personal brand
  • helps students develop a positive digital footprint

I am at a PYP school so this would be wrapped up in an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning.

Interested?  I knew you would be!  Leave a comment below if this is something you are interested in joining me on!

You’re Not The Only Teacher In The Room

The theory of connectivism is a learning theory for the digital age that:

  • believes that knowledge can reside in non-human artifacts.
  • thrives in an environment that values diversity, autonomy, and freedom.
  • suggests that learning occurs when ideas are connected.

Is this an accurate description of our current education system? Are we more concerned about collecting ideas than connecting them? Does the role of “the teacher” as we know it, need to change?  I wish I had all the answers!

I am fearful that education won’t change until the teachers in the room realize that they are not the only teachers in the room. We have all heard of the adage “Sage on the stage, guide on the side” and most teachers would gravely nod and agree, but is this the reality for students once behind classroom doors?

The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. –George Siemens

I was surprised (and yet not) to see that this article was written ten years ago. It seems like the ideas around the need for change in education have been shared but in many cases, have fallen on deaf ears.  It is almost impossible to read any kind of educational literature that doesn’t highlight the increasingly digital and connected nature of ‘school’ and yet we still seem to resist the change that is upon us.

The digital world lowers barriers to learning, provides opportunities for peer teaching, allows students the chance to make their own choices, learn at their own pace, delve deeper into topics that ignite their passions and connect to others in ways that were previously impossible. Living and Learning With New Media showcases many of the ways in which youth interact digitally and the impact this has on the way they learn and the way they differentiate between ‘life’ and ‘learning’ (it’s one and the same).


Einstein figured out that providing the right conditions for students is the best way to promote, encourage, and support learning. This math teacher came to the same conclusion once he gave up his teacher-centred ways and focused more on a student-centred approach to teaching. He shares that the “integration of technology into every subject and at all grade levels allows unprecedented levels and types of exciting collaboration and learner to learner connectivity.”

One of my favorite authors on the subject of technology and 21st Century education is Marc Prensky.  In this ASCD article, Marc talks about kids ‘powering down’ when they come to school – and not just their devices.  He talks of students in the past as ‘coming into the light’ when they went to school – enlightened by the knowledge that was imparted upon them.  Today he describes students as being ‘born into the light’ -surrounded by and connected to knowledge from birth.

I found the readings this week to be encouraging and inspiring at yet at the same time, I found myself increasingly bogged down by what our education system isn’t. The problems, the faults, the gaping holes that need filling.  Then I read some more of Presnky’s work in which he reminds us of what an exciting time it is to be alive and offers the following advice to teachers:

Today’s kids are fledglings on the ledge of a new, and towering future and our job is help them leave the aerie in a way that allows them to soar.The most important thing any teacher can say to any kid in our new context is “Surprise me!”

Surprise ME