Last week, we had Mary Beth, author of “Digital Media and Literacy in the Age of the Internet,” as a guest speaker in class. Mary’s presentation was very informative. Mary touched a lot of hot and interesting topics in her talk. She covered topics like how the Internet works, FOMO, COPPA Act, Cybersecurity, and digital literacy. I like how Adam summarize it all by an excellent title: “Digital Literacy for Dummies.”
Our kids use internet-based technology all the time. Such technology is part of our life, not only in education but also in politics, socializing, marketing and news source. As Mary mentioned in her presentation, “there is no edtech any more, it is only an ed.” Educating kids about how the Internet (and Technology in general) works is very important for digital literacy.
Mary visually explained having a basic knowledge of this allows students to understand privacy, security issues and help them understand how the internet is a global community. Students need to understand how to use technology safely and wisely. It can be a bumpy road if we don’t use it responsibly. We have to make them aware of what is out there and how to protect themselves.
There are other means to collect more and more data personalized data. Audrey Watters, dug deep into this and explained how schools, for example, collect enrollment data, attendance data, graduation data, disciplinary data, standardized test data as it is one of today’s mandate. But as she stated, “There is, however, little evidence that collecting more data improves teaching or learning. Nevertheless, education technology continues to insist that its software and algorithms can identify students who are struggling – academically or emotionally.“
Imagine that some schools even collect and use students’ biometric data to solve cheating issues. The schools use software and algorithms to eliminate the need for human oversight in online exams. Audrey Watters, provides many other cases that she explained in her article. “Education Technology and Data Insecurity,”
Data collecting and selling is all over the place. Alec shared a website last week called “We sell your Data.” The website is trying to raise awareness of this enormous issue of collecting data from users. The main message is “Be smart about who you choose to give your data.” Mary told us how she got rid of her Alexa, knowing how it can be a spy in her house, along with the smart TV can eavesdropping on our private conversations as per the article Matteo shared with us. I actually suspect that the Google Mini at our home spies on us and listens to our discussion!!! Or else how did they know how to provide me with very relevant recommendations on my YouTube timeline??
Having appropriate policies to control the shared data is another crucial aspect. Mary mentioned COPPA law and how it is a good framework especially with students younger than 13 years. I agree with Amanda on the importance of the role of school and educators in teaching students how to behave online and how to think critically and ask themselves questions like; who will access their data? How will data be collected? Where will this data be stored? Will their data be shared with another 3rd party? What data should be provided, and what should not? Mary also stressed on teaching them how to validate the information by using Google reverse image search or checking different websites to source the information and seek the truth. Eventually, they will be able to make the right choices while creating their digital citizenship.
Mary’s presentation motivated me to talk to my kids more about Cybersafety and security and how to make good choices online. We watched, the movie Searching! It provides a good story of what can happen to our kids online.