Monday, December 9, 2013

Digital Citizenship: Metadata Made Simple

Source: The Guardian
Talking to our learners about digital citizenship requires us continually to revise and update our messages. We tell our students constantly that we are not cops here at school to block their access online, but rather we are here to educate them about using it.

We want them to know just how easy it is to collect everything about them on the Web with very little effort. For most learners, the concept of metadata is abstract. They don’t realize that social networks, online shopping companies, websites, and countless other places are routinely collecting it.

Source: The Guardian
Recently, The Guardian published its video animation, The NSA and Surveillance Made Simple, to help explain how massive amounts of information are collected by tapping cable lines, sifting through databases, or obtaining data straight through company servers. It simplifies the world of metadata and reinforces our constant reminders to our students about privacy.


For many in their innocence, they would never think that spies were trolling Facebook and Gmail; however, we are all being watched online. Granted, what we try to educate our learners about regarding good digital citizenship is different than what the NSA gathers. Nonetheless, this simple animation makes it clear just how much metadata is collected on who you are, when you send, and what you say.

Source: The Guardian
This balance between privacy and security could also expand into lessons on civics and the rights of individuals. It opens up opportunities for debates and essay writing to answer a host of questions, including: Does the government have a right to collect information on its citizens, or other countries? How does this affect your behavior online? Does privacy have a future online at all?

Source: IMDb
Lastly, kids love pop culture. There are plenty of television shows that deal with gathering data. For example, could individuals such as the enigmatic billionaire in Person of Interest really recruit a former CIA operative to prevent violent crimes on his own? It’s a good question, and one that would surely spark a classroom conversation.

We’ve moved beyond what Connect Safely describes as Online Safety 2.0, or “stranger danger," to Online Safety 3.0 that is designed to empower and protect youth. In the fast-paced terrain of digital technologies, "stranger danger" is the least threatening when compared to privacy and security. In their world, Web 3.0 is no longer about pushing and sharing information; it’s live. 

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