Safe online – fact or fantasy

http://www.danpink.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/hogwarts-e1264722646117.jpgI came  across two things this week that can help teachers with supporting good use of online spaces.  For some teachers  effective understanding of online spaces and places in terms of good information practice is still a bit of a fantasy tale – like finding Platform 9 3/4 for Hogwarts!

So the following guide is well worthwhile distributing to your school community.

Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online,  gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world.  Net Cetera covers what parents and teachers need to know, and issues to raise with kids about living their lives online.

What about the big student magnet  – Google?

Google published its five privacy principles for International Data Privacy Day on the 28th January.  OK, I admit that this is the other side of the coin.

However, it is important to understand exactly what our major online tools consider as important to their product – driven by business forces – as the fact that online tools are extensions of our kids brains means educators have a responsibility to keep in touch and activate the right options for online spaces and places.

Google’s Privacy Principles are:

  1. Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services. Search history informs personalized search, but users can opt-out.
  2. Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices. For example, you can chat on Google Talk “off the record” so the conversation isn’t saved.
  3. Make the collection of personal information transparent. Last year, the Google Dashboard was launched to show you what info Google is collecting on you.
  4. Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy. You can report privacy issues related to Street View. Google often blurs faces, for example.
  5. Be a responsible steward of the information we hold. Google doesn’t sell data to other companies.

You can view the published web document on Google’s privacy principles here.

(via Google  Search Engine Watch)

Real Wired Child

A while ago I had the opportunity to speak to the P&F at our largest high school. The topic was Myspace or Yours: Possibilities and Pitfalls.

Parents wanted to spend time talking about online safety, games, and hacking! Yes, it is true that for some of our students it is hard to provide them with the online and computer challenges that they crave.

I took with me a copy of Real Wired Child by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. This is a wonderful guide for parents (unfamiliar with the online world) who want to know what their children are doing online, and what they can do to ensure their children’s wellbeing when they venture into cyberspace. Real Wired Child gives practical advice to parents on how they might manage their children’s online communications, social networking, web surfing, downloading and gaming. The truth is that we need to start teaching our students from a young age exactly how to learn, collaborate and share using blogs, wikis and more as part of everyday learning. I love the work of  Al Upton  and his young ‘mini-legends’ – proving that students are never to young to work in a global online world.

Michael Carr-Gregg urges parents to venture into the online world inhabited by their children and get in touch with their day-to-day lives. He explains what kids get up to, provides guidelines for family internet safety and advises how to minimise the risks without limiting your children’s freedom to learn, explore and communicate online. At $19.95 I consider this a bargain. Better still, buy some copies for the library, so parents can borrow a copy. More information available from Penguin.

I prepared a presentation for the evening, to stimulate discussion and thinking about the issues. Thanks to my (online) colleagues Graham Wegner and Sue Waters, whose earlier work provided a basis for this presentation.