Footprints in the Cybersands

As a college student in the process of transferring to another college, it seems relevant to consider the issue of one’s digital footprints. The Huffington Post reported in 2011 that upwards of 80% of college admission officers will look up applicants on Facebook or using Google (article here). I imagine that number is much higher now, and it will continue to be one of the determining factors in admission for the upcoming batches of college students.

Are you aware of the traces you leave whenever you log in to a website, search for terms, or make comments on certain sites? Perhaps you use proxy software to mask your online adventures, or make use of the security features in Google Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers. Perhaps you take the opposite approach, figuring the information is relatively harmless in the sea of data that is the web. Either way, it is prudent to prepare all users of the web in knowing of the extent of the tracking that can go on, and the effect their digital footprint could have on them.

Some schools are taking a proactive approach to handle this issue, and to convey the seriousness of it to their students. Many teachers (such as Nichole Pinkard in Chicago) find it goes hand in hand with promoting digital literacy, which will soon define literacy in general as media and technology become completely integrated with daily interactions.

In the best cases, students are taught the benefits of making a positive footprint (rather than hiding anonymously on the web), as well as the ramifications of negative ones. This could be said to be the modern version of imparting responsible and ethical behavior to the online citizen– teaching students that their actions and words have repercussions and should be treated as such (rather than allowing the misconception to continue that it is the ideal trolling ground).

Thinking on this, I have to consider my own digital footprint. I enjoy commenting on news and blog posts now and then, and I use my Facebook profile to sign in to various sites. I search for a variety of terms and subjects in the pursuit of various academic topics. Presently, I keep most of my Facebook profile restricted to the general public, though some of my political and scientific inclinations shine through at times. Should I be concerned?

Doing a search on myself reveals all of the places I’ve lived in the past 12 years, along with a few archived newspaper articles (which are positive). Some other loosely statistical information is available, not all of it accurate. I have to wonder at the breadth of companies that have one or more of my e-mail addresses in their mailing lists or on file, as it is difficult to know how much of that has been saved and shared over the 15 years I’ve been online… it is easy to feel invaded by such incessant tracking, but it is also empowering to realize how you can impact the impression people have of you by augmenting your online presence with positive reinforcement.

The opposite potential is disturbing, but it should be said– someone can easily harass and manipulate another by publishing false information online, and spreading it. Thus, we have the need for cyberethics.

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Learnboost Lesson Planner (reviewish)

The prior three posts are an attempt to explore the capabilities of the Learnboost lesson planning system at https://www.learnboost.com. Overall, I’ve been pretty impressed so far, though I have run into a few bugs that have resulted in time outs during web page loading (when trying to share to wordpress). I haven’t put the Learnboost system through its full paces as yet, but it appears to be extensive in what it covers (including the ability to add standards). All in all, not bad!

Lesson Plan – Picturacy (picture literacy)

General

Teacher

Grade Level

11th Grade

Classroom

Concept

Deducing the meaning of pictures and symbols

Goals

Students who take this class will be treated to an elaborate lesson supporting the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In this age of quickly shifting methods of communication, being able to actively employ multiple methods of interpretation is key to cultural understanding.

Students will analyze images and symbols and interpret their meaning on a cultural and historical level (by “telling the story” of the picture).

Tags
  • critical thinking
  • sociology
  • interpretation

Standards

  • 6.RH.2

    Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

    Reading History/Social Studies › Key Ideas and Details

Materials

Materials

Notebook, writing utensil

Media (URLs)

Lesson Plan – The Literacy Blues

General

Teacher

Grade Level

11th Grade

Classroom

Concept

Interpreting a story using various media

Goals

Students will read and interpret a single story in this class, “The Gift of the Magi”. After reading it, they will listen to blues music and view appropriate images for the time period. They will then compose blues poetry in the same style, create a scrapbook of related images, and create a mural reflecting what they have learned.

Tags
  • writing
  • music
  • media

Standards

  • K.W.2

    “Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.”

    Writing › Text Types and Purposes

  • K.W.2

    Writing

  • K.W.2

    Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

  • K.W.2

    Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

  • K.W.2

    Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

  • K.W.2

    Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

Materials

Materials

writing utensil, notebook

Media (URLs)

Lesson Plan – Modern uses of folk wisdom

General

Teacher

Grade Level

11th Grade

Classroom

Concept

Reading comprehension and critical thinking

Goals

By performing the tasks within this activity (reading and interpreting old wives tales, applying insight into why it was thought to work, and coming up with actual remedies), students will employ a variety of techniques. They will learn how to read and comprehend older language or stories, translate that into modern vocabulary and thought, and analyze the historical bearing on the origin of the myth or folk remedy. It is intended for grades 11 and higher.

Tags
  • english
  • history
  • critical thinking

Standards

  • 3.RI.3

    “Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.”

    Reading Informational › Key Ideas and Details

  • 3.RI.3

    Reading Informational

  • 3.RI.3

    Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • 3.RI.3

    Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • 3.RI.3

    Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • 3.RI.3

    Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

Materials

Materials

Notebook, pen or pencil

Media (URLs)

Introducing Students to Space (an app to map the stars)

A few months ago, a good friend showed me an app on his ipad that allowed him to view all of the celestial bodies around the earth in their exact real-time locations (satellites as well). I was floored by the potential of the app (which was Starmap) and the curiosity it could unleash.

The same company has put out a similar program (Spacemap) with a richer user interface making it more approachable for kids and students. Not only does it fulfill the same capabilities of Starmap, it also allows users to “fly” through solar systems on virtual intersellar voyages (again, with accurate celestial mapping).

For the right age bracket (junior high and higher), this application could serve to open up young minds to interest in space, astronomy, and science. Having a fully dynamic application that lets you point at, say, Sirius, and then instantly start flying there puts celestial bodies firmly within the grasp of any student. Coordinating daytime space journeys with nighttime star viewing would only serve to enhance the experience.

Personally speaking, I would have truly enjoyed having this as a kid. I remember when we first got Windows 95 and it featured a primitive program that would let you fly into space (very slowly), and how much time I spent doing that (despite the limited graphics and incorrect positioning) just to wrap my head around the distances involved… I was 13 at the time, and the adult me is just as excited about the potential offered in programs like Spacemap.

In many ways, science fiction is only science future.

Check out Spacemap at this link:

http://www.star-map.fr/starmap-spacemap/