Mar 15, 2009

"Developing Responsible Cybercitizens"



Have you ever googled your name to see what hits you get?


After watching the google videos on privacy, I decided to see what happened when I googled my name. Guess what I found? Yes, there was Danielle Spencer everywhere! Thank goodness for Russell Crowe's beautiful wife, Danielle Spencer, because links about that Danielle Spencer filled page 1 and 2, however, by page 3 there I was! My facebook account with my picture and this blog "Up 2 Notches" were right there, in plain view. I wondered if it was because of the "cookies" and "cache" in my temporary folders, as the google videos explained? I had to figure this out. So I went onto my husband's computer and googled away. There I was again! I was "googleable." It left me feeling......exposed.

As an educator, I am always aware of my professional conduct and have considered my professionalism online, so it was easy for me to agree with Doug Johnson's tips for educators in"Lighting Lamps." He reminds educators to use extreme caution when engaging in blogging or other forms of Internet communication (Johnson, 2008). His tips include "write assuming your boss is reading," and "gripe globally, praise locally" (Johnson, 2008). For me, my facebook account is for social networking, my ning is to share teaching ideas and my blogs are used to share ideas and explore the realities of the digital world, and one reality is that when you are online, you are in the public realm.

How do we teach students that the internet is a public place and to be careful with giving out private information? How do we develop responsible cybercitizens?

While the Canadian government's document titled, "Children's Online Privacy" shows steps in beginning to set expectations and standards by "urging" industry to "adopt the highest possible standard of privacy possible," and "wishes" to work with "data protection regulators from other countries to ensure that children have access to an online environment that is safe and respects an individuals privacy," we need to begin educating students on privacy.

Perhaps one way is by modeling that privacy is respected and important. One example used in "Social Studies Vision: Consider This," is to teach students to keep passwords private. The authors of this article also noted that lessons on what is private information is important, especially for elementary students (Berson et al, 2004). I also wondered, after reading "The Ebb and Flow of Library Privacy," and from the discussions on the discussion board, about keeping library records confidential, if that would be another good way to model privacy.


Teachers can integrate teaching responsible cybercitizenship in the classroom and can use some online websites that engage students and teach them cyberskills. In the article, An Analysis of Electronic Media to Prepare Children for Safe and Ethical Practices in Digital Environments, by Berson and Desai, recommend these websites for practicing making responsible decisions online: Brainpop, ikeepsafe.org, Media Awareness Network, iSafe, Netsmartz, and Hectors World (Berson et al, 2008). After going to each, I highly recommend Hector's World, as it tells students right at the beginning when they enter a nickname, to "remember only to enter a nickname." Then once you enter a nickname, they clearly state that they will not be keeping any information or asking for details.

This leads from privacy of personal information into the "Digital Dossier," which is the "accumulation of personal data collected as people use digital technology" (Di Gennaro, 2008). In Born Digital, Palfrey and Gasser, state that protecting the privacy of young people with respect to their digital identity is a great challenge, because there are many "economic incentives" at play (Palfrey and Gasser, 2008). However, we can teach students that information about them is tracked digitally and teach them how information on them is collected and how they are leaving a "digital footprint" behind.


In Lighting Lamps, Johnson tells teachers to "write assuming your boss is reading" and "gripe globally, praise locally," and as teachers we need to teach our student cybercitizens to "write assuming your parents and the world is reading" (because they can and probably are) and "think globally and act cybersafely."

Just curious, have you googled your name yet?

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