Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Those apps that we download, get our students to sign up for and use – how much do we know about their security? About how they use the student data?The article below highlights an issue  we have not thought about before as we try to keep up with the massive potential as well as challenges that integrating technology in a mindful way poses.

When reading about the big school boards in the U.S. (who actually have someone called the Chief Technology Officer for the districts) and how they are trying to get a handle on teachers using un-vetted apps in the classroom (as the app companies are marketing directly to the teachers, often offering their product for free at the beginning), it occurs to me that the challenge will be how to foster an atmosphere of open, spontaneous exploration while still keeping student privacy and safety in the foreground. I can see how a top-heavy vetting process could get cumbersome and be a deterrent for teachers who are already reticent to use the technology.

Or perhaps we could demand the onus of privacy and safety be put squarely on the educational software companies- perhaps they cannot call themselves an educational app without meeting certain criteria in the realm of data security?

Any ideas? This will definitely go on the agenda of our next IT meeting.

Apps and other software can put powerful teaching tools at teachers’ fingertips, but concerns abound over data security, effectiveness and marketing.


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For those of you who were intrigued by the mention by our WOW speaker, Wanda Bedard from the 60 Million Girls Foundation, of the use of Rasberry Pi technology as a portable digital library for schools in developing countries (which, OMG so fantastic and innovative!), here is a brief overview of what it actually is and how other people are using it.

As technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable tech are evolving in the present day scenario, Open Source technologies are playing a key role in the evolution of such technologies….


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Fair Use for the Visual Arts

With all our recent talk about best practices in attributing images in our visual presentations, this publication from the College Art Association is especially prescient, especially this section on teaching art.

The Center for Social Media showcases and analyzes media for public knowledge and action—media made by, for, and with publics to address the problems that they share. We pay particular attention to the evolution of documentary film and video in a digital era. With research, public events, and convenings, we explore the fast-changing environment for public media.


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Digital Bytes | Common Sense Media

Hmmm. This is worth a closer look. I know that Commen Sense media has some amazing lesson plans for within the class. It looks like these offerings are more student-led (air at least students can access and do them on their own) and shorter. It might be another tool to keep the Digital Citizenship conversation on line.

Also, I learned a new word: slacktivist. I think you can guess what that means (online petition signing, anyone?)

Here is a quick video tutorial:

Common Sense Media improves the lives of kids and families by providing independent reviews, age ratings, & other information about all types of media.


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‘We want to talk about sex’: Grade 8 girls push for Ontario sex-ed reforms to include the concept of consent

This caught my eye last week as I have been thinking about how to balance the need to keep our daughters safe online with the need for them to be able to have a voice online. This shouldn’t be a problem, right? The internet has the potential for being a democratic, inclusive space. And yet…As the events of the last year have shown  (Gamergate, the Dalhousie debacle, and the list goes on…) there is an increasing need to educate our youth about consent. The fact that this push is coming from two teenagers is akin to being bashed on the head with a mallet. here is just a small excerpt of the journalist’s interview with the two teens:

Kathleen Wynne used the words “interpersonal ability and intelligence.” What does that mean?

Valente: It’s learning how to read people, which is important. People think it’s common sense but you can’t necessarily tell if someone is completely comfortable. They should talk about it in schools: facial expressions and what they mean connected to emotions. And body language: What it means when someone’s shoulders are stiff when you’re hugging them. It’s about developing good relationships.

I have shivers. Oh, and a renewed hope for the fate of humanity…

As Ontario plans an update of its outdated sexual-education curriculum, a pair of 13-year-olds want to make sure their lessons will include the concept of consent


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OLA CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHT: OSAPAC’s Digital Citizenship resources

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One of the reasons why I wanted to attend the OLA (Ontario Library Association) Super Conference (Yep. It’s called the Super conference, mainly because it includes sessions for public, academic, school and special libraries) is because of the vast amount of sessions dedicated to school libraries.

I was not disappointed. As we all know, one of the many bees in my bonnet is the importance of guiding our students in the online world. I am always looking for ways to keep the Digital Citizenship conversation alive with our students, whether it be about plagiarism or privacy.

On my first day at the conference I attended a session that introduced the OSAPAC’s (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee) hub for all things Digital Citizenship and was very impressed. As you can see by the image above, it is well-designed, simple and easy to use. But don’t be fooled by the clean interface – this website contains loads of information.

Click on an icon and you get this page:

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It is divided by grade level and includes a Resources section with hyperlinks to information, lesson plans and videos on the subject from other reliable organizations by category:

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The best part though is the Classroom Connections section:

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These are very detailed ways in which you can integrate the issues and skills of Digital Citizenship seamlessly into the curriculum, whether it be a history or science class.

Each Classroom Connection contains 5 sections:

Authentic Task:

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Digital Citizenship Development:

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Curriculum Content:

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Now of course, this connects to the Ontario curriculum, but I am sure there will be many crossovers.


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Technology Integration Resources:

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I love this. This is just one lesson plan in one of the sections. Apparently, they will also be adding more resources periodically.  It is beautifully laid out, gives you all the information that you need and deals with digital citizenship skills and actual classroom concepts all in one beautiful package.

Check it out and see how you can integrate Digital Citizenship skill into your classroom!

The Big Disconnect

This article was posted in the last NAIS newsletter we received and I thought it was worth re-sharing. It explores the contradictions between the values we strive to instil in our students at school and the norms that rule the online world. Steiner-Adair also mentions the stress that living in this dual world can cause our students as well as some solutions for moving forward:

As learning becomes more screen-based, and students connect and learn together outside of regular school hours, it’s essential to balance increased tech use with stronger programs in social-emotional learning and other steps to help students manage their dual lives in their bicultural online/offline school community. Schools can reboot advisory systems, core curriculum, faculty training, and parent education. Schools should regularly assess with all constituents how tech integration is going, looking particularly to see if technology is undermining school culture, and, if so, find ways to strengthen school spirit. There is nothing here that we, as educators, can’t do and can’t help with. The most dangerous thing is to be in denial.

I am in total agreement.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,700 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including 1,400 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S.


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Introducing the Digital Tool Box!

I am proud to announce that the Digital ToolBox is online! The idea behind it is to have all the information you might need as well as any tools that would be helpful in teaching Digital Citizenship skills to your students. From How to evaluate a website to Netiquette, from Plagiarism to Passwords, hopefully this will be your one stop digital citizenship shop.

It lives in several places on our portal, but you can access it publicly by going to the Traf website –>academics–>Library. And there it is on the left hand side:

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What is the digital toolbox you ask?  Well, let me give you a tour!

The toolbox is divided into the following sections:

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Research Tools

Research tools include resources to use for brainstorming, note-taking, website evaluation as well as actual search and citation tips:

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NOTE: I will be updating it the toolbox frequently, so if you have a suggestion for something you would like to see in it, please contact me!

Plagiarism and Copyright

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In the plagiarism and copyright section you will find information on how copyright works, what plagiarism is as well as links to sites with images in the public domain, under the Creative commons license or where you have the right to use them (as in Imagequest database that we pay for). But remember, just because you are allowed to use it, doesn’t mean you are off the hook for giving credit where credit is due. Always attribute your images!

Social Media Policies

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Here you will find a link to the social media policy for students as well as our iPad rules in the class and an info graphic on Netiquette. When you are giving a project with a social media component (blogs, etc.) Take a minute and refer back to these documents with your students!

Digital Security

This is of special interest, given our presentation this morning on more secure passwords. Keep yourself safe! Teach the students how to do the same!

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Digital Health and Wellness

Avoid carpal tunnel syndrome with these tips.

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ONCE AGAIN, I reiterate: I will be updating and adding to these sections periodically. If you would like to see something included in these sections, email me!

Need Help? Ask the IT Team!

For Parents

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The Toolbox that lives on the faculy portal also includes a section for teachers:

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Check it out!

Notions de base sur la confidentialité Facebook

I got a message from Facebook this morning saying that they are changing their privacy policy on January 1, 2015. Here is the message:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.33.29 AMI have link the Facebook Basics page below (Although I linked to the English side, for some reason it shows up in French – but if you click on the link, it turns back to English. I think it is suffering from a bout of the Mondays…)

Another thing you might want to check out is their new Data Policy, which they lay out in an easy-to-understand, un-intimidating format. As such, it is also kind of terrifying:

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And it goes on. If you are a Facebook user, I highly recommend taking some time before January to read through their policy as well as their privacy tips. I know I will.

Nous sommes là pour vous aider à vivre l’expérience que vous souhaitez. Découvrez comment protéger votre confidentialité sur Facebook.


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7 Ways to Deal With Digital Distractions in the Classroom | Edudemic

I have become weary of any articles that begin with [insert number] ways you can [insert topic], but the article below makes some good suggestions. The two that stand out for me is taking bait of time in class to bust the myth of multitasking. This would be especially  useful with students who feel they work best when doing many things. The article gives a great, easy little test to cure them of that particular delusion.

As well, the author makes a good point about reading online and how you format your text. Check it out!


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