Privacy has gone…

April 10, 2010

Do we have privacy anymore, do we have privacy with the internet now being so much part of our lives?

The opening keynote at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference 2010 was by Josie Fraser. She delivered an inspiring thought provoking keynote covering many different issues including digital identity, digital communities and communities of practice.

One of the key discussions was on privacy and the ability to control what I put online on services such as Twitter, this blog, Flickr or even (now and again) Facebook.

I can do lots to protect my identity.

I can decide what photographs I post to Flickr.

I can decide whether to include geo-data when I post to Twitter or use Audioboo.

What about the issue of other people infringing my privacy and putting details of my life online.

I can’t stop other people from broadcasting what I am doing…

I can’t stop them taking and posting photographs on me online.

I can’t stop them writing about what I am doing on services like Twitter and Facebook.

I can’t stop them uploading videos of me to YouTube.

I won’t be able to stop them adding geo-data to images or videos of me.

These services that people have used have take down policies, but unless the images, video or text are “not nice” then would the services taken them down because I don’t like them?

Of course I can ask, but they don’t need to say yes!

We seem to be at a stage where privacy is almost impossible to maintain if you go anywhere that others will be using cameras, online services such as Twitter or Facebook; even if I don’t use any of these things myself.

Josie in her keynote showed us the Ungooglable Man.

Does he exist? Probably?

Does he exist online? More than likely!

Even if he doesn’t use Myspace or Facebook, it is likely that friends and family do. They may place photographs of him online, they may talk about him, they may have videos of him. As a result he may be found online despite the fact that he is not online himself.

There are implications for those who have concerns about their own online identities that they may well have no power to stop others posting “stuff” about them online.

At the moment, many colleges are looking to work with learners on the concept of e-safety, part of which is digital identity. Colleges need to remind individuals that they are not the only person who needs to be concerned about what they post online, but that their friends and family need to be aware of the issues too.

Do you worry about what is posted about you online?

Do you know what others have posted about you online?

Should we care?

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To block or not to block

February 15, 2010

Very often in education it is decided that the best way to “protect” learners is to block as much of the internet as possible. This is more often than not the policy in schools, nearly just as much in Further Education, and even in Universities.

I have for many years that technological solutions such as blocking are a blinkered approach to e-safety and that educating and training learners in how to use the internet safely and to be aware of the issues relating to digital identify was a much better and superior answer. If you block and lock down the internet, it can result in a false sense of security, this could result in learners not been fully protected.

It would appear that this viewpoint has been echoed in a recent Ofsted report on e-safety.

There was this interesting article from BBC News on this report:

Pupils given a greater degree of freedom to surf the internet at school are less vulnerable to online dangers in the long-term, inspectors say.

“Managed” online systems were more successful than “locked” ones at safeguarding pupils’ safety, they said.

The article continues…

The five schools judged outstanding for online safety all used managed systems to help pupils become responsible users of technology.

So what was the difference?

…while the 13 schools using locked down systems kept pupils safe while in school, these systems were less effective in helping them learn how to use technology safely.

Now this is interesting. You decide that the best way to protect learners is to lock down your system, the end result is that they are less protected.

One of the key reasons that this happens is that as the teachers and management perceive that the network is locked down and thus safe, they don’t need to worry about informing the learners about e-safety and digital identity. Of course once that learner goes home to their unlocked home internet, their smartphone, their 3G dongle, a friend’s computer… they have no concept of how to act responsibly and safely online and as a result put themselves at risk.

I would suspect that those schools that lock down their systems, have no real idea themselves about the issues and potential dangers of the internet for their learners; and feel that their responsibility only lies with their own computers… let the children fend for themselves outside school….

Whereas those schools which manage their systems, allow learners greater freedoms, have a much better awareness of e-safety and have ensured that it is part of the curriculum or tutorial programme.

If your institution is serious about e-safety and safeguarding, it will know that technological solutions are in fact not solutions at all, merely simple aids in supporting a coherent, robust practical strategy and policy based on education and training.

So what type of institution is yours?

Who helps your learners “become responsible users of technology”?